Footy leagues hopeful of return

By Jackson Russel

Despite numerous leagues across Victoria cancelling their football seasons, the Riddell District Football Netball League and AFL Outer East both remain hopeful that a season can take place.

An RDFNL statement released last week said the league was committed to proceeding with a season providing it was safe for players, umpires and volunteers, protocols were not too much of a burden on volunteers, and it was financially viable for clubs.

“At this stage, the RDFNL believes that there is still significant time at our disposal for restrictions to be further lifted in time for play to hopefully commence in the coming weeks/months,” the statement said.

“The RDFNL is in support of AFL Victoria’s position on lobbying the State Government for community sport to return and are waiting on this advice before a decision is made about potential start dates for a season.”

Lancefield Football Netball Club president Gina Morgan said a 2020 season was simply not viable without crowds of at least 500.

“To run a club is expensive these days and we need the ability to have crowds through the gate and to operate our bar and canteen and run events,” she said.

“If we can’t have crowds, we may as well scrap the 2020 season and focus on next year.

“If we don’t start by mid to late July, I don’t see why we would start at all. It would be half a season, eight or nine matches, so we really need to have started by then, otherwise forget it.”

The Tigers will make their return to the training track on Thursday, with footballers and netballers given the all clear from the Lancefield Park committee to resume training.

“The league’s been fantastic communicating with us on how to get the protocols for training up to scratch with the standards set by the government,” Morgan said.

“We sat down about three weeks ago with all the coaches and some of the committee… we felt as a club, it was important that we provide that service to the community and a place for our players to come and train and still feel part of the club.”

AFL Outer East, which Broadford was due to make its debut in this year, released return to football guidelines on Friday, targeting a July 25 start date for all competitions.

The guidelines set key requirements for a senior football season which included crowds of up to 500, an eight to 10-game season, and bar and canteen services.

Key requirements for a netball season appear more achievable in the short term with a crowd of 100 along with food sales but should a winter season not get the green light, AFL Outer East will look into a summer netball competition.

In a statement on Broadford Football Netball Club’s Facebook page, president Bonnie Cavanagh said she had drafted a club-specific return to play plan, which was approved by Mitchell Shire Council and was under consideration by the Harley Hammond Reserve committee of management before being presented to the club committee.

“I want to again reiterate I have the utmost respect for the decision makers at every level, and throw my sincere support behind them all, and all clubs and leagues who have made the decision to end their seasons so far,” she said.