By Nick Creely
AFL South East (AFLSE) has announced that the South East Juniors (SEJ) season will be postponed until Sunday 26 July due to the ever-changing Covid-19 environment.
After a meeting with club presidents last week, including from the Frankston and District Junior Football League, clubs reviewed their position based on the updated AFL Victoria Return to Play protocols and elected in the best interest of clubs, volunteers, participants and the community, to postpone the season by a few weeks.
In a statement issued, AFLSE stated that the best way forward this season in getting junior sport was to re-assess the potential risks and therefore postpone until late-July.
“AFLSE understands that the current State Government guidelines allow for the commencement of junior sport,” the statement read.
“However, given the evolving Covid-19 situation is creating uncertainty within the community and posing an increased risk, the postponement will enable us to continue to monitor and assess any potential risk.”
AFLSE has advised clubs that only those necessary to support participation should attend training and competitions and must abide by current group gathering restrictions, while also reiterating that participants should not shake hands or give high fives. At this stage, clubs are permitted to continue intra-club practice matches but inter-club practice matches with other clubs should not take place and are under review.
“AFLSE remains committed on a return to play if it is safe to do so. While disappointing, we believe delaying the start to the season is in the best interest of our wider community and provides the best chance to return to play in 2020,” AFLSE stated.
“We will continue to keep clubs and the wider community updated as required.”
AFLSE has announced the decision to cancel the South Eastern Women’s Football (SEWF) competition for the 2020 season.
A meeting was held with club representatives on Monday 29 June where the majority of clubs stated they would not be fielding teams this year due to the current Covid-19 situation.
Only a small minority of clubs remained interested in a potential 2020 season, with the varying levels of skill and experience making it virtually impossible to compile a fair, competitive, and equitable fixture in 2020.
Other major factors in the decision include the strain on volunteers which would require them to adhere to strict AFL Victoria and State Government protocols, social distancing in clubrooms and at grounds, while the health and wellbeing of the players and general community was of the biggest concern.
“Both AFLSE and the clubs have a clear obligation to protect participants, volunteers, officials, umpires, supporters, and their families during this Coronavirus pandemic,” SEWF operations coordinator Rod Hamilton said.
“I would like to thank all of our clubs for your support and understanding over the last few months during these difficult times and hope that everyone continues to stay safe and I look forward to working with clubs going forward into the 2021 season.”