More local sport to return

Sale City plays Sale in the under 13s. Photo: David Braithwaite

David Braithwaite

MOST senior sport will return next week following the state government’s easing of COVID restrictions across regional Victoria.
Acting Premier James Merlino on Wednesday announced people of all ages will be able to take part in training and competitions for indoor and outdoor sport from Friday.
Attendance will be capped at 150 people, with no more than 50 people indoors. In a rule which will benefit sports like golf, there aren’t venue limits if a 100 metre distance can be maintained between groups.
Groups can’t be bigger than 20 people for outdoor sport, and 10 for indoor sport.
Gyms can also reopen within the restrictions for indoor sport and recreation.
Individual sporting bodies will update their return to play and training guidelines, based on the changes in restrictions.
Junior outdoor sport was able to proceed last weekend, with adults limited to training. Senior and junior indoor sport was not permitted.
The North and East Gippsland football-netball leagues won’t play this long weekend, as initially scheduled, and will resume their seasons on June 19, as will the Gippsland League, which opted not to play on Saturday.
All three leagues haven’t played the past two weekends in any grade.
Having already cancelled its seventh and eighth rounds, the Gippsland League consulted with its 10 clubs about returning to action, at least for junior grades, on Saturday.
The majority of clubs were not in favour of playing tomorrow while movement continues to be restricted in greater Melbourne, crowds are capped at 150 in regional Victoria, and there being no confirmation about the ability to open changerooms and canteens this weekend.
“The majority of the member clubs also specifically stated their preference to resume the senior and junior competitions at the same time, effectively ruling out a return to play for junior competitions on June 12 under the current restrictions,” the league announced.
“While senior sport is open under the new restrictions as of June 11, multiple clubs have notified the league that they will not be able to field some teams in round nine under the current movement restrictions for greater Melbourne.
“Based on this feedback, Gippsland League’s scheduled round nine competition matches will not be played on June 12. Gippsland League will be strongly recommending a return to play on June 19 for all grades and will be working towards this over the next week.”
Teams won’t be awarded points or percentage for the three cancelled rounds.
The fixture will be adjusted with the emphasis on clubs receiving equal number of home matches, and each club playing each other at least once.
The finals series remains unchanged.
The EGFNL season will be reduced to 14 rounds, with each team playing each other twice.
If the season can resume on June 19, round eight will be played that day, which includes Boisdale-Briagolong hosting Stratford.
Rounds six and seven, which were affected by the state-wide restrictions, will be played at the end of the home-and-away season, replacing rounds 15 and 16.
If there can’t be play on June 19, the league will look at alternative arrangements.
Much rests of the ability to have spectators and open canteens and social rooms.
The NGFNL is yet to confirm what will happen with its fixture.
The Mid Gippsland FNL has confirmed it will play a 13-round home-and-away season.
Following three weekends off, the league is aiming to resume the season on June 19 by playing rounds 11 to 13 as originally scheduled. It will then play the two postponed rounds, ensuring each of the 13 clubs play each other once.
After a league-wide bye weekend, the league will then play its finals.
Having the pre-finals bye and moving its finals a week earlier than initially scheduled gives the league flexibility should more restrictions be introduced.
After the return of junior matches on Saturday, no matches will be played in the Latrobe Valley Soccer League this weekend.
The LVSL did not schedule matches for this weekend to allow to juniors to play in the country championships, which have now been postponed to October.
The LVSL will play its cup semi-finals next week. Sale United will play Monash in the women’s Browne-Huizer Cup on Wednesday night in Newborough.
The league competition is set to resume the following weekend, with round 11, delayed from the end of May, to be played.
The LVSL will also make the most of the scheduled reserve weekend between the regular season and the top six play-offs, by playing round 22.
With the cup finals to follow the top six play-offs, the latest the LVSL wants to finish its season is October 17.
Another lockdown could see the league reduce its top six play-offs to four teams, or cut its cup finals.
LVSL administrator Tony Coltman said the resumption of senior matches would be determined by what was in Football Victoria’s “return to play” guidelines, relating to issues such as the number of spectators permitted and the use of changerooms.
“There are so many things you have to think about,” he said.
After all round five matches were cancelled and only juniors played last weekend, the East Gippsland Hockey Association will take the long weekend off. The break had been scheduled for
the senior country championships, which have been postponed.
The EGHA has updated its fixture to accommodate the merger of Nagle and Bairnsdale for the remainder of the season, eliminating the bye.
The finals will begin August 28, with the grand finals a fortnight later.
The Latrobe Valley Baseball Association and Gippsland Youth Girls League (football) will also not play this long weekend, but the Sale and District Junior Football Association will be.