Leagues to decide fate

By Emma Prior

The fate of local 2020 football netball seasons will be determined in coming weeks after a number of meetings with presidents were held recently. 

A number of the leagues were cautiously optimistic a 2020 start date will occur but all concurred that crowds were needed. 

Hume Football Netball League made the decision at a special meeting between clubs on Wednesday, May 20 to scrap playing for a premiership this season.

Clubs were asked to vote whether they were prepared to play into October to ensure a shortened season where each club played each other once plus finals but a resounding vote of nine to three against extending the season was the result. 

The Hume league was the first competition in the district to rule on their future.

Tallangatta and District Football Netball League is currently willing to finish late to ensure football with further meetings set to take place in coming weeks.

Ovens and Murray Football Netball League Board Chairman David Sinclair said the O&M also held a meeting with club presidents with all in agreeance, for a season to go ahead crowds need to be allowed.

“The league, after meeting with presidents last Wednesday night (May 27) was advised that all clubs (both football and netball) have now returned to training under the protocols laid out by the various governing bodies,” Mr Sinclair said. 

“With restrictions slowly easing clubs are cautiously optimistic about a return to play.

“It was reiterated by all that a return to play needs to be achieved in a sustainable way with crowd numbers the key to a date being fixed. 

“It was the view of the group that a minimum requirement would need to be 500 plus participants and volunteers and that canteens and bar access be available.

“It has also been established that everyone needs to play once to make it a legitimate season.

“The league will continue to work with clubs to achieve the best outcome under unique circumstances and although we all want some clarity around how the season might look, we will leave any definitive decisions until at least the back half of June. 

“In the event that a traditional season cannot be achieved clubs are still keen to explore options of a return to play for underage football and netball.

“The health and wellbeing of our players, volunteers and fans continue to remain the priority.

“We will wait to see what happens in coming weeks with senior football then will look at if standalone netball would still be a viable option.”

Picola District Football Netball League operations manager Shane Railton said the Picola league was very likely to be starting season 2020 on correspondence with each of the league’s clubs.

“A survey has gone out to all clubs when they would like to start and finish the season,” Mr Railton said.

“The feedback we have had from clubs so far has been fairly positive and we have had positive information come back to us from government officials also about getting a season up.

 “We are looking at a shorter season but there is a variation between clubs on what the minimum amount of games should be.

“Currently we are working through all the finer details with all clubs. 

“Setting a start date sooner rather than later is our biggest priority.

“Not all clubs might get up but if we are able to have some type of season, that is what we are working towards. 

“It is very likely Picola will start season 2020.”

Although the likelihood of a 2020 season of senior football/netball is still being decided, AFL Victoria North East Border Region General Manager John O’Donohue said junior and female football was still being looked at.

“We are waiting on further government restrictions so that informed decisions can be made for football at all levels,” Mr O’Donohue said. 

“Whilst we don’t have those restrictions for anything post June 22 at the moment, the considerations for juniors and female football are considerably different from senior leagues and we remain hopeful of a window to play pending the appetite from clubs to participate at some future point and the lifting of restrictions.”

Murray Football Netball League Executive and Club Presidents also met on Monday, May 25 with all parties putting together a road map with the possibility that football, and netball may return for season 2020. 

Murray Football Netball League General Manager Dale Norman said training has resumed and another meeting will be held next Monday but the Murray FNL Executive and clubs have full intention and remain committed to starting the competition.