Junior sport in Katherine is steadily plotting an unexpected return as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease over the coming weeks.
June 5 is the crucial date for most sports, as the Northern Territory will enter stage three of its road back to normality.
This will allow organisers to engage in full-contact training sessions for the first time since the pandemic hit in March, while building towards playing games after June 19.
Katherine Junior Rugby League Secratary and Treasurer Annette Schefe says both organisers and families are itching to get back into it after believing they would lose a whole season.
"We weren't at all hopeful of being able to play this year so to be now planning a full season is a fantastic outcome," she said.
"Junior sport in this town is so important for bonding kids with not only their mates but their families as well, the respect they learn through the clubs sets them up to be better adults when the time comes.
"We're dotting the i's and crossing the t's to make sure everything is in place and once we get the green light we'll be shouting from the hilltops, just so happy to get back into it," Mrs Schefe said.
Rugby League is one of Katherine's biggest junior sports with over 350 registered participants across its 16 teams.
They have begun fitness sessions and submitted necessary COVID-safe plans but are still awaiting the green light from the National Rugby League organisation.
Ms Schefe has high hopes this will come over the next few days, allowing for a full 12-round season plus finals to finish in late September.
Soccer will commence games from June 10 as Katherine Football Club announced training can begin shortly so long as teams follow strict distancing and hygiene guidelines.
The organisation has advertised for umpires and staff as sports across the Territory scramble to restart organisations expected to be inactive 'til next year.
Netball and touch rugby are plotting similar timelines for returns, while Katherine Horse and Pony Club re-started last Sunday with an eye to internal competitions in July or August.
And all over the Katherine region, parents heaved a deep sigh of relief.
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