Kyabram football and netball at a standstill

By Andrew Johnston

FOOTBALL and netball competitions across the Goulburn Valley have been stopped in their tracks, with leagues on hold until May 31.

The Kyabram Bombers, Tongala Blues and the entire KDL will be treading water until at least the first week of June, after the GVL, MFNL and KDL accepted the AFL's recommendations last week.

“This decision has been made based on protecting the health and well-being of fans, players, umpires, officials, partners, volunteers and community,” AFL GM region general manager Jamie Macri said.

“This is our number one priority. We are determined to be part of the community response to slow the COVID-19 virus – and in doing so, help the broader community and our health systems to cope.

“Our community is facing many challenges. By taking the necessary precautions and supporting each other, we hope that we can limit the impact of COVID-19 and ensure we’re back playing the game that we all enjoy and love, and most importantly, ensure the safety and health of our community.”

Across the region, clubs are still trying to figure out a way forward.

Kyabram president Peter Learmonth said the Bombers — who have been practising social distancing on the GVL ladder for close to five years — were waiting on the league for further information.

"The players were given a week off after the announcement,” he said.

"We sat last week to start to make decisions, but we are waiting on a league meeting this week to clarify what we can and can't do for the time being."

Learmonth said he was disappointed for the players.

"We were looking forward to a really good season in both sports,” he said.

"A lot of hard work had gone into putting this season together, we were excited for the year to begin, so for this to unfold the way it has is obviously very disappointing for the players.

"As a club we are travelling okay for now, it will be case of getting our heads in front of it going forward, but it's obviously incredibly important to keep everyone safe."

While disappointed, Tongala president Darren Maloney said there was also a sense of relief at having an outcome.

“Everyone knows what we’re faced with, and that is better for the wider community,” he said.

“These are commonsense calls, and it puts us all in the same boat. We are all waiting together and getting ready for when we go again.”

Under the current arrangement, first games would be played on June 6.