Riddell District Football Netball League, June 2021.

Senior football and netball leagues across the region have cancelled the remainder of their 2021 competitions ahead of any start of finals.

Following the State Government’s announcement last week that lockdown across metropolitan Melbourne will remain in place until 70 per cent of the state is vaccinated, the metropolitan based leagues were the first to make the call.

Riddell District Football Netball League general manager Jordan Doyle said despite months of competition changes to attempt to fulfil the season, the leagues had made the decision in the best interest of all involved at the clubs.

“Unfortunately, after weeks and months of competition changes and plans being altered, yesterday’s State Government announcement regarding another lockdown extension has meant our football and netball seasons are over for 2021,” he said.

“Thanks to everyone in our community for their tireless work keeping the flame going for 2021.

“We are already looking forward to our competitions starting in April 2022 for hopefully an uninterrupted season.”

The season cancellation comes at a blow to Wallan Football Club, who had its seniors, reserves and 19.5 sides all finish on top of the ladder.

In the Northern Football League, Kilmore will finish its season in third spot in the division three seniors.

The Blues looked to be a strong side heading into finals.

Coach Nathan Phillips said the decision was the right thing to do, but it still had left many members of the side feeling flat.

“It’s probably the right decision in a sense, as I think they were just going to go straight to the grand final [due to the season being pushed back so many times]. So, it’s better because unless you can play some sort of finals series it wouldn’t have been the right decision to play a grand final,” he said.

“It’s disappointing and a lot of the boys are pretty flat about it but compared to 2020 at least we were able to get some games of footy in this year, so that’s a positive.”

Two of Kilmore’s three losses this year were handed to them in the final moments of the matches, and Phillips said the Blues had grown together as a club and would take the success from this year into 2022.

“We were so close to playing finals and potentially playing in the grand final, I think everyone will want to play again next year.”

Phillips also thanked the support from Kilmore Football Netball Club’s sponsors who stuck by the club despite facing their own challenges brought upon by COVID-19.

“Thank you to our sponsors for jumping on board this year in what wouldn’t have been an easy time to spend their money on things like sponsoring a local club,” he said.

“We hope that they will want to be back on board next year and that we can bring the club and them the flag that we really want.”

AFL Outer East League, which Broadford plays in, announced a day after the metropolitan leagues that it would also all cancel all senior and junior divisions of football and netball for 2021.

While Broadford’s seniors were not in the finals’ race, the club had qualified all netball teams, A, B, C and D grades, and Under 17s football.

In a statement, AFL Outer East said it was an extremely disappointing decision, which was not made lightly.

“Outer East has exhausted all avenues possible in the hope of enabling the remaining games in the 2021 season to be played,” it said.

“Across September, we will be releasing and announcing our players awards for season 2021 to recognise the achievements of players across our various competitions.”

The metropolitan leagues have set a date for 2022’s season to commence the weekend of April 1-3.

AFL Outer East has not published a date yet for when its season next year will commence but said it was committed to coming back ‘bigger and better in 2022’.

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