The organisers of the new HoopNation Junior Showcase are "fingers crossed" they can still maintain their June 12-14 tournament date in Whanganui if the country can come out of the Covid-19 lockdown in good shape.
Expat Whanganui promoters Paul Berridge and KJ Allen announced the 36-team basketball tournament for Under 12-16 grades at the start of this month, as an off-shoot of the original senior HoopNation tournament, which started at Springvale Stadium before being moved to Tauranga five years ago.
As the risks to the population from the pandemic increased, the New Zealand Government announced restrictions of indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, which would have impacted HoopNation, before announcing all events were banned as the country went into lockdown for the next four weeks at the minimum.
Berridge had already announced on Facebook that the NZ Secondary Schools Sports Council (NZSSSC) will release an update on all school sporting events on April 6, and HoopNation will align themselves with that to make their own announcement on any change in dates.
"It's something everyone has to work out together in some sort of way," he said today.
"As of where we are, it's something that we don't want to cancel.
"It's fingers crossed. We may have to postpone, but we'll definitely keep it in Whanganui.
"It's concrete that it will be here.
"It's something we're really looking forward to, after 10 years of the journey."
Should the country get the all-clear to return to normal routines in the coming two months, and provided there are not restrictions on larger gatherings at that time, Berridge said they have a window of about late May in which to ensure they can meet their June obligations.
"It could be 10 [people allowed], 100 or 500, that changes the opportunity for everyone."
Obligations includes printing and distributing uniforms for the event – as team fees to enter HoopNation include receiving playing gear – as well as the prospect of the secondary school sports calender becoming jammed on those dates as previously postponed events are rescheduled.
While Whanganui has not had an official positive test for Covid-19, and the teenagers who will compete in the tournament are considered a low-risk group for experiencing health problems, Berridge agreed it was not worth the risk should anyone come to the town as an unknowing carrier of the virus.
"It's a tough situation for everyone and we're waiting for some sign and ideas. Safety is first and foremost."
Demand to enter the HoopNation Junior tournament was very high, with all 36 entry spots being taken, including a team travelling from Brisbane.
A big drawcard is that unlike the regular HoopNation tournament over Labour Weekend, the Whanganui version is to be contested under Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) rules from the United States.
A number of New Zealand teams were scheduled to travel to compete in Las Vegas in July and so jumped at the chance to play under those conditions domestically before they would leave.
"It was really awesome times, and exciting times to see what this means to the basketball community," said Berridge.
"We're really excited to come home, and we were embraced by a lot of people that have supported us in the past."
Teams from the Waikato, Tauranga, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and and Auckland have all signed up to take part, with previous HoopNation events in Whanganui having had a positive economic impact for the town estimated at $1.6m.
Berridge said he would love for the timing of the lifting of restrictions to be alright so they can go ahead as scheduled, and the tournament would be a financial boost to the town it will need with its post Covid-19-recovery.
Not to mention all the boost to the young people will be eager to come back out of their homes to take part in the big event they had been looking forward to.
"What better way for us to do that? What better way to make an impact to come home and boost the economy and help people with something that they couldn't change?"
"Sport - it's the outlet that people find therapeutic."
In the meantime, as a professional fitness trainer, Berridge encouraged people stuck at home to look after their mental and physical health with some basic exercises, and has posted tips on his Instagram account.
"You just got to make a routine," he said.
"I know people are putting up whiteboards with activities for their kids, you've got to make time for yourself to better your health."