The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Leaders ponder season’s end
Leaders of mainstream community sport were busy assessing a variety of scenarios last night in hope they could ‘bookend’ the 2021 season with premierships.
Wimmera-mallee football and netball league officials, clubs, players and volunteers remained in limbo as they contemplated when or whether they could proceed with finals.
Wimmera league was preparing for its final home-and-away round and Horsham District league its first week of finals when word spread on Friday night that organisations should cancel their weekend schedules.
With no formal government announcement regarding a statewide lockdown scheduled until the next morning, it was left to sporting peak bodies to provide regional Victorian communities with direction.
From a sporting perspective, while the move had significant impact on all community sports across regional Victoria, it hit football and netball, major cultural institutions involving thousands of people, particularly hard.
AFL Wimmera Mallee region manager Jason Muldoon said planning for what happened next for football finals would be based on how many weeks were available for the onset of summer sport.
“Considering we expect to know more on September 2, which is a Thursday, returning on the Saturday of September 4 appears unrealistic, so the best-case scenario is that players are back on the courts and ovals on September 11,” he said.
“At that point there will have to be some decisions around the structure of finals. Does everything change or do we push further into October? At the moment, as days go by, we’re all ticking off options that are no longer available. What happens now is really based on when we come out of the lockdown.”
Scenarios range from leagues being able to complete all finals, losing a week or weeks of finals to having a top-versus-second play-off or not completing the season at all.
Mr Muldoon said both leagues, representing communities across a vast area of western Victoria, were working towards trying to present grand finals and the presentation of premiership medallions and cups.
“They are working desperately to try to have some form of premierships to finish the season and while there’s much working out to do, a lot of it has to wait. If ‘X’ happens then ‘Y’ can occur. If ‘X’ doesn’t then ‘Y’ can’t and so on. It is really about them putting things quickly in place and hoping it can all come to fruition.
“The reality is we’re really dealing with the unknown and we’re playing by a set of rules that change daily.”
Mr Muldoon said while acknowledging it was ‘only’ sport, he felt for children who had been looking forward to participating in weekend games.
“Some kids would have gone to bed on Friday night thinking they were playing finals, only to be told the next day they weren’t. While we as adults understand, it can be hard for them to comprehend it all,” he said.
Wimmera and Horsham District league officials and club representatives are busy discussing contingency plans.