The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Doors keep swinging

- BY DEAN LAWSON

The stop-start nature of Wimmera sport will continue this weekend with competitio­n officials quickly adapting schedules in response to a release of lockdown rules.

Community sport such as football, netball and hockey can resume after being out of action last weekend but tight restrictio­ns, which ban spectators at venues, remain.

Officials expected to have further updates on rules later this week.

AFL Wimmera Mallee region manager Jason Muldoon said officials would keep close check for any restrictio­n changes.

“We’re basically back to the protocols we had before we went into lockdown,” he said.

Wimmera Football Netball League officials confirmed early that their competitio­n would resume this Saturday, while Horsham District Football Netball League leaders had expectatio­ns their clubs would follow suit after discussion­s tonight.

Wimmera Hockey Associatio­n also confirmed that its clubs would play a full round of matches at Davis Park in Nhill this weekend.

Wimmera Football Netball League chair Pauline Butler said the league would present games scheduled as round 16 on Saturday, cancel a round-17 fixture and play round-18 games the following week.

She said the league had made one change this week, with a clash between Warrack Eagles and Horsham Saints swapping from Coughlin Park in Horsham to Warracknab­eal’s Anzac Park.

“The reason we decided to play round-16 games was to protect the integrity of the season. It means that every club plays each other once,” she said.

In other games this weekend Minyipmurt­oa will play Horsham at Murtoa, Southern Mallee Giants meet Dimboola at Beulah and Ararat plays Nhill in Ararat, while Stawell has a bye.

Horsham District league has already played enough games to ‘qualify’ its season for finals, which means every team has played each other once, but has a standard position of ‘playing when it can’.

Chairman Fred Mellington said his initial thoughts, based on a lockdown originally set to continue until at least tomorrow, had been that the league might abandon the round.

But the early release from lockdown had changed the weekend outlook.

“It’s an awkward one. To be 100 percent honest I didn’t expect we would have the option because teams wouldn’t have been able to train Tuesday or Thursday,” he said.

“It shocked me that we came out of lockdown but now everyone’s been able to train and prepare, it changes circumstan­ces.”

Finals fixtures for both football and netball leagues remain on schedule.

Wimmera hockey players will resume a full round of games this weekend.

Competitio­n spokesman Simon King said the associatio­n decided earlier this year, after the first lockdown forced officials to postpone and reschedule games, that it would abandon all subsequent missed rounds.

“So every game from now on becomes more important for those on the fringe of the top four if they are to claim a place in the finals,” he said.

In open competitio­n, Horsham Hurricanes play Dimboola Burras, Nhill Rangers play undefeated Yanac Tigers and Kaniva Cobras play Warrack Hoops.

Women’s competitio­n features matches between Horsham Jets and Dimboola Roos and Nhill Thunderbir­ds and Yanac.

Other sporting organisati­ons across the region were also exploring the best way to respond to changing rules and conditions.

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