Football and netball leagues to decide fate

By Emma Prior

The fate of local 2020 football netball seasons will be determined in coming weeks after the three leagues around Yarrawonga Mulwala held meetings with presidents recently. 

One league is looking hopeful while the remaining two are cautiously optimistic a 2020 start date will occur but all concurred that crowds were needed. 

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 have been told we can start using canteens as of June 1 which is obviously a positive for a season start.

“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.”

Murray Football Netball League Executive and Club Presidents 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.

“This, of course, will be subject to Government restrictions and Return to Play protocols yet to be released by the governing body,” Mr Norman said.   

“For the league and clubs, the ability to generate revenue is critical.  Clubs must be able to host crowds, functions, canteens and bars.  All clubs agree, no crowds – no play. 

“The Murray FNL Executive and clubs has full intention and remains committed to starting the competition. The league is yet to set a date of return, continuing to explore fixture alternatives however acknowledge the situation remains fluid and any decision may be subject to change.

“The Murray FNL Executive has encouraged all clubs to recommence training on or after June 1. “When, or if, a club resumes training remains entirely up to the discretion of the club.  

“Clubs need to ensure they are in compliance with all guidelines imposed by the state government, AFL Victoria, Netball Victoria and be confident that when the season does indeed go ahead, are well prepared to meet the protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

“Any future decisions will be made in conjunction with protocols released by the governing body.  

“The Murray FNL number one priority remains the safety and wellbeing of supporters, players, umpires, officials, volunteers and the community.  

“The League Executive and clubs will meet again on June 8.”

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.”

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.”

The Kyabram District League season is the most recent league to be cancelled after member clubs voted against proceeding with this year’s campaign.

At an extraordinary meeting last Wednesday night clubs agreed Victorian Government-imposed coronavirus measures and their surrounding time frames would make running a season inappropriate, with public health and safety also a major part of the reasoning behind the decision.

The KDL became the third league in Victoria to cancel its season behind the Heathcote District and Millewa leagues, while the South West District League followed yesterday by also opting against playing.

Training kickstarted

With restrictions around training for sport easing over the past two weeks the Chronicle checked on our four local teams to establish who is back on the track and in what capacity.

From Monday, June 1, 20 players could undertake non-contact outdoor sport, plus the instructor.   

Yarrawonga FNC

The Yarrawonga Pigeons seniors and Under 18 football have returned to training on Tuesday and Thursday nights with the under 18s training first before a 15 minute interval before the seniors take the field. 

The Under 14s and 16s are also training two nights a week with a 15 minute interval in between while the under 12s and AFLW both train on a Wednesday night with the break in between. 

Rennie FNC

The Rennie Hoppers are hoping to hear more in terms of training and a season start in coming days. Senior footballers are training individually at present, but the club is hoping to have under 14s and 17s football back this week to ensure children are getting out of the house and exercising. 

“We are keen to get a season started, mainly the kids,” RFNC President Matt Stephens said. 

Mulwala FNC

The Mulwala Football Netball Club have made the decision to suspend all club sanctioned trainings of all grades of football and netball until further notice.

“Even with the Government restrictions allowing for a possible return to training, we still feel that the health and safety of our players, members and community remains our priority and that the risks of allowing training to resume at this point are still far too great,” Club President Chris McNamara said.

Tungamah FNC

Tungamah Football Netball Club committee have made the decision to continue to suspend all club sanctioned training of all grades of football and netball until further notice.

“Even with the government restrictions allowing for a possible return to training, we still feel that the health & safety of our players, members & community remains our number one priority and that the risks of allowing training to resume at this point are still far too great,” TFNC Facebook read. 

“At this stage no final decisions have been made regarding the future of the MFNL 2020 season. As soon as further information becomes available, we will endeavour to keep you updated.”