After a long sport-less wait, Nelson Suburbs will be among the first teams to get back on the field this weekend.
The boys in blue will host perennial powerhouses Cashmere Technical at Saxton Field in round three of the Mainland Premier League.
It was almost twelve weeks ago when Suburbs defeated Western AFC 5-3 in following a close 2-1 loss to Ferrymead in round one.
Coach Neil Connell says his side is dying to get back on the pitch.
“It’s been too long.”
Suburbs has managed to turn the crisis into somewhat of a positive as the time was used for players to rehabilitate some niggling injuries while also managing to sign two marquee names.
Tasman United stars Fox Slotemaker and Corey Larsen have both joined the team in a massive coup for the club.
“They have been brilliant and settled in really well,” Neil says.
Despite the disruption, the side is in top physical condition as they prepare for their showdown with Cashmere.
“The boys all trained individually and came back pretty fit, preparations have been a bit different, but we are training well and really excited.”
Neil will have the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from, which is even stronger than prior to lockdown.
With so many rounds lost to lockdown, the league will now be extended to October.
Neil is hopeful for strong local support as sport returns to the region.
“The boys always appreciate a good crowd, it’s great to have football back and I’m sure the region will be looking forward to it.”
Operations manager Gary Hinks says fans are welcome to the game and contact tracing will be in place.
“We might need to move people away from the concrete area, but we don’t want to turn people away, we just need to be sensible.”
A QR code will be available for spectators to sign in as well as hand sanitiser.
“We will have policies in place to protect everyone.”
Suburbs vs Cashmere Technical
12pm Sunday June 7