Shepparton News

It’s the end of line for cup

V/LINE AND SHIELD CARNIVALS ARE PUT ON ICE UNTIL NEXT YEAR DUE TO ONGOING COVID-19 RESTRICTIO­NS

- By Zac Standish

AFL Victoria confirmed last week the V/Line Country Cup competitio­n slated to take place in Greater Shepparton next month has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictio­ns in Victoria.

With the premier’s recent road map out of lockdown indicating community sport cannot return until early November the decision was made to move the carnival to a date in April in the hope that restrictio­ns will be eased to the point where the event can be held as normally as possible.

This postponeme­nt means Greater Shepparton will be hosting two V/Line Country Cups next year, with the region committing to hosting this year’s event scheduled for next month.

AFL Victoria country football manager John O’Donohue explained the decision to postpone the carnival.

“It is disappoint­ing we weren’t able to deliver it in October this year, however, the COVID impacts were too significan­t to make that happen,” O’Donohue said.

“We still wanted to provide the opportunit­y for this group of kids, both male and female, to play V/Line Cup, so we looked at ways we could reschedule and it is great that we can continue our partnershi­p with V/Line and the Greater Shepparton council to deliver it next year which is a fantastic outcome for us.”

When it came to picking a suitable date for the reschedule­d carnival he said April stood out as the ideal time frame.

“The first thing that stood out was that in the carnival format it requires us to play over a number of days, so we need to run the event in the school holidays,” he said.

“So we looked at doing it later this year, but due to the availabili­ty of the grounds and the uncertaint­y around COVID we have taken a positive look that by April next year we will have some sort of normality back and those holidays leading into Easter is the best opportunit­y to run it as best we can.”

An event that will bring hundreds of people to the region, O’Donohue said hosting the V/Line Country Cup served as a major coup for Greater Shepparton.

“It is a significan­t carnival, we have only 350 participan­ts that play, so it brings not only them, but generally one or two family members come as well, so it will bring a lot to the region,” he said.

“It has been great the way that the Greater Shepparton council have embraced the opportunit­y, obviously we were going to host 2021 and 2022 in Shepparton, but we didn’t get that opportunit­y.

“But they have maintained their interest and now we will have over 700 kids come to Shepparton next year which is fantastic and gives the region a chance to showcase its facilities and all that the town has to offer.”

Along with the benefits it will provide the Shepparton region, the V/Line Country Cup serves as a fantastic opportunit­y for young upand-coming footballer­s to showcase their talent.

“The V/Line Cup is a fantastic program and provides 350 kids the opportunit­y to represent their region and, in some cases, there will be those who will find their way through to NAB League talent programs,” O’Donohue said.

“For others, though, it could be the highest level of football they play, so it exposes them to a great experience to go away from two or three days with a team and there is a lot of social benefits that are involved as well — V/Line Cup has so much more associated with it than just playing the game.”

AFL Victoria also announced last week that its annual Herald Sun Shield had been cancelled for the second straight year.

A competitio­n that has schools from across Victoria compete against each other, O’Donohue said it was unfortunat­e a champion could not be crowned.

“It is disappoint­ing (the shield has been cancelled), but the whole year has been disappoint­ing the way it has panned out and this probably compounds what has been a very poor finish to this year’s football season,” he said.

“We hope to relaunch it in 2022 with relaxed COVID-19 restrictio­ns once we hit those vaccinatio­n rates.”

 ?? ?? Coming next year: The V/Line Country Cup set to take place in Shepparton next month has been postponed to April.
Coming next year: The V/Line Country Cup set to take place in Shepparton next month has been postponed to April.

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