There's no doubt that sports are a lifeblood for regional Victorian communities.
The city has several iconic sports venues including the Queen Elizabeth Oval, Tom Flood Sports Centre and then there is none other than the Bendigo Stadium.
Though sport has been hindered recently by COVID-19, the Bendigo Stadium is leading from the front.
Junior players from various sports made their return to the stadium this week.
"Sport is the connector to normality. It is the one moment in our fast paced livelihoods where we can switch off from the everyday challenges and become absorbed in the 'moment'," Bendigo Stadium Limited chief executive officer Nathan O'Neill said.
"To say we need that 'moment' again is an understatement. Therefore, to see junior athletes return to the Bendigo Stadium for community sport this week has been an uplifting experience for all involved.
"The Bendigo Stadium provides a much needed outlet to our community on a daily basis, and is a core reason why I was drawn here almost fours ago."
The Golden City Netball Association held its first game on the weekend, followed by the Bendigo Basketball Association's domestic competition which commenced on Monday night and in early August it's expected the Bendigo Volleyball Association will spring into action.
"People walking through our doors again has been an amazing reward for our team who have demonstrated pure positivity during this disruption. It is simply a glimmer of hope in a time of sheer adversity," O'Neill said.
In the lead-up to the resumption of junior sport the stadium worked tirelessly to ensure health and safety protocols were in place to protect the entire community.
One of the key users of the stadium, the Bendigo Basketball Association, also produced an in-depth video to help ensure attendees understand the process and rules of attending.
"Not enough praise can be given to our entire team who have implemented a COVID-Safe hygiene plan for the Bendigo Stadium to protect our employees, contractors, athletes, and sport user groups," O'Neill said.
"A 'new world' for sport participation has arrived, and we have been agile with our adaption. Cashless payments, QR code to sign into venue for sport participation, sanitation stations, Bio-Safety Officers, and social distancing measures are the new norm.
O'Neill said to see juniors back playing sport was a "small win" during such unprecedented times.
"With the lockdown in Melbourne and added pressure to uphold current restrictions to re-flatten the curve, glimpses of what we use to experience is super important to our welfare and everyday living," he said.
"However, small wins are imperative for the light to remain bright. Junior sport returning to the Bendigo Stadium was that small win which will keep the community in good spirits during difficult times."
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