By Nick Creely
The NAB League boys and girls could be set for a start in August in what would be a reduced season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As reported by AFL.com.au on Tuesday 9 June, the AFL wrote to clubs about the second-tier and junior competitions and the desire to get both competitions up and running, but with reduced seasons.
With some of the finest young AFL and AFLW talents in the country vying to get drafted later this year but with no footy under their belt at this stage, the AFL is targeting an August return with a potential six-week season to ensure hopefuls get a chance to impress.
With the AFL prioritising each state-based under-18 competition, there is also hope of a representative program for October, which would be in place of the normal mid-year national championships. The AFL Draft Combine is still expected to go ahead in October, but will wound back to focus on club interviews and medical screenings.
In terms of the VFL, there is hope that a shortened season will also kick off, with the AFL exploring the option of an eight-team competition – five standalone clubs and three AFL-aligned clubs.
The three aligned VFL clubs – Box Hill Hawks, Casey Demons and Sandringham Zebras – would compete in the competition against standalone clubs Frankston, Port Melbourne, Werribee, Coburg and Williamston, but would not have any access to AFL-listed players due to restrictions and will be able to sign additional players to its list.
Importantly, players who have signed with AFL-affiliated VFL clubs but aren’t AFL listed could be on the move to other clubs to ensure each club has enough players.
“We are working closely with all governments and health authorities to determine a return for the state league and talent pathways competitions,” AFL head of talent Tristan Salter told AFL.com.au
“Over the past few months we have been working through and understanding the details surrounding each competition in consultation with clubs and officials.
“We are committed to getting football back at these levels and will continue to help and support all players, clubs, officials, supporters and leagues.
“We are determined to provide all eligible AFL draft prospects the opportunity to showcase their skills ahead of a NAB AFL Draft at the end of this year.”