Football-netball clubs in doubt on match play

Gisborne Football Netball Club president John Wood (centre) says there's no guarantee games will be played this season.

What are the prospects of football and netball taking place across the Bendigo and Riddell leagues this season? “We just don’t know” is the current condensed summation from Gisborne Football Netball Club president John Wood (pictured).
While he was speaking to the Express following a BFL club presidents’ meeting last week, and a follow-up get-together of the Gisborne club’s hierarchy with coaches, it seemingly reflected a wider feeling across both leagues.
The adjacent Heathcote District Football League has just ‘pulled the pin’ and cancelled its 2020 season due to COVID-19 impact and risk factors. Heathcote’s decision may be contentious at this stage, but it provides certainty for clubs, players and supporters.
The state government’s relaxation on health protocols means modified training was allowable from May 25, but Wood, and Macedon club president Andrew Dick, emphasised this was training only, with no indication that matches would eventually be played this season.
“There’s no guarantee on games,” the Bulldogs’ president said.
Gisborne has detailed requirements to all players so they fully comprehend their responsibilities.
“Just to get back to training in your clubs is quite an onerous exercise … we have backed our coaches with an educational package to the players on protocols, and players need to understand.
“If there is a season, Gisborne will need to field three football and five netball teams …we don’t know yet what the reaction of all players will be (to strict protocols),” Wood said.
The president said the general consensus of BFL clubs seemed to be that it would be no good having football and netball without spectators; a similar view has been expressed by many in the Riddell League.
No crowds would severely diminish the opportunity for clubs to raise revenue; running a football-netball club is anything but cheap.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council has been consulting with clubs in regard to use of grounds under its control.
Presidents of BFL clubs have been meeting by electronic means, rather than in person, on a fortnightly basis.
Announcements by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday did not shed any light on what community football clubs can expect; skate parks and playgrounds were reprieved from bans that had been in for some weeks, coinciding with a staggered return to school for some students this week.
Late last week Macedon Football Netball Club’s executive team, senior coaches and newly appointed COVID-19 officer Dom Andreacchio (former club president and welfare officer) reviewed the current situation.
The committee confirmed protocols and structure were in place for modified training to commence this week.
President Andrew Dick said football training would cover seven days, with additional sessions in Melbourne. Cats’ netballers are likely to train at least three days this week.
Respective coaches will contact players to detail the training plan, rosters, criteria and requirements for training.
The president said the committee and coaches wanted to confirm taking part in training was voluntary.
If any players have concerns about training for their own personal reasons, there is no compulsion to train at all.
Kyneton Football Netball Club players are among those keen to get stuck into training.
“We are waiting on information from both AFL Central Vic and the Macedon Ranges Shire Council,” said KFNC acting president Julie Priestley.
“Once we have all the information we need, we will be able to make a decision on a return date for training. Our men’s and women’s footballers and netballers are keen to get on the track.”