The financial blow dealt to southern sporting franchises by Covid-19 has prompted additional support from Community Trust South.
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, Southland Sharks and Southland Stags each received an additional one-off payment of $10,000 when their respective three-yearly funding applications were approved.
Community Trust South general manager Jackie Flutey said trustees acknowledged the continuing challenges the franchises faced operating within the Covid environment, together with each being impacted by the loss of SIT sponsorship.
“We understand that because of alert level changes, there have been restricted crowd numbers resulting in reduced revenue and there has been increased costs in ongoing adaptation to operate within Covid guidelines,” she said.
“The recently announced loss of major sponsorship is untimely with opportunities to secure new sponsorship difficult in a struggling business community. While the Trust is not in a position to plug the gaps in sponsorship, this additional one-off grant will go some way towards mitigating the situation.”
Netball South chief executive Lana Winders said the organisation was “delighted” to have funding approved with a “cherry on top” for the Steel and community netball in Southland and Wakatipu.
“As a franchise, we have been taking some blows to our revenue with Covid restricting the number of people we can have at games and SIT pulling back from their major sponsorship of the Steel,” she said.
“We have had some amazing help from our partners and we have been working overtime to cut our cloth to the reduced revenue. There have been a lot of sobering conversations about what we can and can’t do. So, getting the news from Community Trust South that there was an extra $10,000 of assistance blew us away.”
“It is so good to have the pendulum swing our way a little. We will stretch that $10,000 a long way to help us keep our head above water.”
It was an important boost for Steel’s quest to secure a third ANZ Premiership title.
“Our players need a performance environment that meets their needs and helps them compete and represent the south with pride. Apart from a much-needed morale boost for the team behind the team, it will help us keep essential elements of that performance environment in place,” Winders said.
Rugby Southland general manager Steve Mitchell said the organisation appreciated the ongoing support from Community Trust South.
“An increase this season for the major codes to acknowledge the difficulties faced due to Covid is further appreciated and shows how committed and connected to the community Community Trust South is,” he said.
Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger said the organisation was “so thankful” for Community Trust South's additional support.
"Right from day one they have been a massive supporter of the Sharks, both from a funding point of view but just as importantly, generally in the community. To have them step up like this means so much and really does show how committed they are to our region and organisations like the Sharks, Steel and Stags,” she said.