Back to training for footy clubs

David Braithwaite

LOCAL football clubs can return to training from Monday, but soccer clubs will wait until next month.

AFL Victoria announced sanctioned training can resume on Monday, with detailed guidelines to be released this week.

But AFL Victoria has already stipulated players can only train in groups of up to 10 people, plus coaches. Two groups of 10 can use the same oval, provided they don’t train close to each other.

The beginning of the football season was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions. No date has been set for local leagues to play.

AFL Victoria head of community football Stephen O’Donohue said returning to play in a safe, hygienic and controlled manner was paramount.

“Our return to play strategy has been focused on ensuring we have the clear endorsement of state government and public health officials at every phase of return,” he said.

“We will continue to work with the state government to ensure alignment with their advice, and in the event of further easing of restrictions, we hope to be able to return to full training and competition later in the year, with hygiene and safety protocols firmly in place.”

Player transfers reopened on Friday, and will continue until June 30.

Players in the AFL returned to non-contact training on Monday, with contact training to resume next Monday ahead of the season resuming June 11.

While Football Federation Victoria allowed community clubs to train from Monday, Latrobe Valley Soccer League clubs won’t be training until at least June 1.

LVSL president Allan Roberts said the board needed to consider the financial welfare of clubs, players and volunteers.

“It needs to be noted that clubs must ensure that they can guarantee that all aspects of the ‘Return to Training’ guidelines are complied with 100 per cent before resuming any activity,” he said.

Clubs will review the proposed guidelines to see if they’re practical at this level, and how it affects public liability insurance.

The LVSL board, which includes club delegates, determined no sanctioned trained was allowed. The direction will be reviewed on June 1.

Under the FFV Return to Training guidelines, training must be done in groups of no more than 10 players, plus a coach. A standard soccer pitch can be used by two groups, who cannot mix.

Physical distancing of 1.5 metres must be maintained, while training will initially not include heading of the ball or tackling.

With changerooms not to be used, players must arrive at a venue ready to train, while the guidelines list hygiene protocols for clubs and individuals.

With one round played before COVID-19 restrictions were enforced, the LVSL is looking at fixturing options, but that will not be finalised until it is comfortable all clubs can return to training safely.

Golf, bowls and croquet clubs, among other outdoor sports, have been allowed to reopen, but operate under strict conditions.