‘Miracle’ needed for local footy competitions to get underway in 2020 as Heathcote District Football League calls off season


“I guess we’re dealing with smaller communities that have concerns with transmission and bringing it into their small communities.

“As a league, the Bendigo Football League, we’ve had constant open dialogue with our clubs on a fortnightly basis since March. Are we confident seasons will go ahead? I think it’s really hard to get too far ahead of ourselves.

“These decisions are somewhat going to be taken out of our hands.”

AFL Barwon, which manages the Geelong and Bellarine football leagues, said it too was prepared to pull the pin on its senior competitions if the next state government update does not provide a clear return-to-play proposal.

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“If the state government announcement doesn’t provide a definitive path to a return to play for senior football in 2020, the AFL Barwon Commission will call a meeting at the earliest opportunity to end the 2020 GFNL and BFNL season at a senior football level only,” the league said in a statement.

“Whilst it remains AFL Barwon intention to return to play and the return to small group training protocols released this week and were undoubtedly a positive step, the health of our region can never be compromised and that remains paramount in decision making for players, coaches, volunteers and supporters.”

The Heathcote District Football League told its members that a return to full scale training by June 15 for a July 4 season start was “highly unlikely” so the immediate decision to abandon the season “as difficult and disappointing as it is, gives everyone clarity”.

Ballarat Football League operations manager Shane Anwyl told The Age that the Heathcote District Football League’s decision would play a part in his league’s thinking.

“We’re still in limbo until the end of the month when we get the next state government announcement,” he said.

“We’ve got some plans in place about recommencing by mid-July at the latest, is our deadline, so we’re still working towards that but what’s starting to occur with other leagues around the region, we have to take that into account.”

Both Anwyl and Tomlins said they had concerns about how club volunteers would be able to manage the coronavirus protocols which would be imposed on clubs.

“I think the biggest onus is all the protocols that clubs need to adhere to, which we don’t dispute, they’re in place for a reason; it’s unfortunately though that there’s a big expectation now on club volunteers to manage those protocols,” Anwyl said.

“We’d expect every club would run at a loss this year, whether they play or not and we don’t want to get to the point where we’re playing for the sake of playing. It’s got to be feasible both from a practical and financial sense.”

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