Sport

COVID-19 shuts down Benalla Auskick Centre for year

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla’s Auskick program won’t go ahead as planned this year after the centre’s committee announced last week the cancellation of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

After much discussion, the committee determined the required protocols by the AFL to keep participants, coaches, volunteers, families and the broader community safe could not be fully implemented.

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Benalla District Junior Football League president Darren Skelton said the decision to cancel this year’s program had not been taken lightly and he thanked everyone for their patience and understanding.

“The size of our centre made it extremely difficult to fully and effectively implement the protocols as directed by the AFL,” Skelton said.

“While some Auskick Centres may make a decision to offer a program this year, with 200 participants, 20 coaches, and hundreds of spectators, liability for the implementation of the strict protocols would have placed an unfair burden on our volunteers.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable for volunteers to accept the liability for implementing the protocols in an environment where contact and social distancing is extremely difficult to manage.”

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Skelton also acknowledged a number of the centre’s volunteers had also been personally impacted by restrictions and needed to focus their attention on their businesses.

“We are extremely lucky to have some great volunteers who over many years have committed their time and effort to help kids get out there and play,” Skelton said.

“But at the current time, we need to make the best decision for everyone involved.”

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Skelton said the centre was looking forward to all its players returning next year with the new purpose-built Arundel St facility to be in full operation.

Benalla Auskick will also look at running a local "Footy Frenzy" event later this year if COVID-19 restrictions allow it.

● For families who have registered for the 2020 season prior to COVID-19 restrictions, contact the AFL directly at [email protected] for further details about refunds.

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