Hope for youth football in 2020

By Tyler Maher

JUNIOR football action could be seen in the Goulburn Valley as early as mid-July if all goes to plan for a district league.

Shepparton District Junior Football League has released a blueprint for the return to matches following the COVID-19 pandemic.

An uninterrupted fixture of games throughout term three of the school year — set to begin on July 13 — is the aim for the competition, pending full-contact approval from the Victorian Government and AFL Victoria.

The newly formed SGR Giants youth girls side was to enter the competition this season before the COVID delay.

“The league is focusing on that uninterrupted block of games to be played during the third term of the school year,” president Mark Lambourn said.

“We don’t know if that means eight rounds or 10, or an exact start date, but we are confident now that our season, assuming we can play, will be made up of a block of uninterrupted football matches during term three.”

The league felt it was important to give clubs, volunteers, parents and players something to strive towards, while still keeping enough flexibility to adapt to the post-shutdown environment.

“Our season and any full-contact training will only commence with the endorsement of state government approving contact sport and AFL Victoria; however, we think this blueprint allows more time for teams to be prepared,” Lambourn said.

“At this stage, the best plan we have is to say to our teams, be prepared to be playing football during this block of time in the third term.

“We want to be giving advance notice when to start full-contact training, so players are conditioned, fit and healthy enough without just starting cold, so to speak.”

The health and safety of all involved is paramount for the league, which will look to utilise tools such at the Team App Covid Assistance Tracker to help club officials.

“This season is like no other,” Lambourn said.

“But our goal is to have certainty around how we can still hold our competition safely and for the enjoyment of all.”

Meanwhile, the Goulburn Campaspe Junior Football League is yet to make a decision on its season after a meeting last week.

Officials will convene again in the coming weeks before a decision is made.

Term three of the Victorian school year is slated for July 13 to September 18.