NGFNL to vote on juniors tonight

Sam Watson

No senior football or netball in Gippsland in 2020

THE North Gippsland Football-Netball League will tonight (Friday) decide whether its junior competitions will go ahead in 2020.

NGFNL president David Kyle said the league’s 10 clubs were asked about holding under 18s football and under 17s and 15s netball this year.

It is understood the league has developed a unanimous opinion on the matter clubs were asked to consider.

“I’ve asked them all to go back and consider the implications of the current day policy and come back to me and let me know what their club’s views are,” Kyle said.

Many clubs expect the league to cancel the junior competitions.

The decision has divided certain clubs around the league, with some open to a season and others opposed to playing.

Some clubs have admitted their opinion depends on what the state government recommends.

Woodside president Ashley Walpole said his club would prepare as best it could for the junior season, but didn’t have all the information.

“We’re relying on the Victorian government to give us guidance on how to run or conduct our season,” he said.

“If the government think we’re able to play then we can play, if they don’t think we’re able to play then we won’t play.”

Heyfield president Kelvin Sundermann agreed with Walpole, with the Kangaroos’ view dependant “on what the state government says”.

If the season is to go ahead, Sundermann admitted “there will be lots of challenges”.

“It’s not the actual playing of football, it’s what’s happening around the outside,” he said.

“The crowd control and all the restrictions that you’ve got to adhere to, that’s the difficulties of it.”

While Sundermann has not ruled out the season going ahead, he thought clubs should ask “is it possible that your volunteers are capable of performing the tasks, that they’re going to be asked to perform that they normally don’t do?”

Yarram president Anthony Rodaughan thought the junior seasons “will get knocked on the head” by the league.

Rodaughan worried that if kids miss a year of football they may not come back and play the game but ultimately it boils down to risk versus reward.

“These kids will get eight or nine games of footy or netball but the risk that they could bring the virus back into our small community here with limited medical resources is something that we just don’t want to contemplate,” he said.

Gormandale president Adam Talbot was in the same boat as Rodaughan when it came to the risks of the season.

“Looking at it and being honest, the cons probably outweigh the pros,” he said.

However, Talbot said he was not so sure what the league’s decision will be.

It is understood Sale City would like to see the junior season go ahead, while some other club officials think calling off the season would be a mistake.

Cowwarr president Brad Woodall said his club “definitely don’t want the junior competition to go ahead”.

“We just think there’s too much risk involved and there’s a duty of care for those players, supporters and volunteers,” he said.

“It’s not fair to have a person nominated as a COVID-19 officer, that’s required to control the crowds and everyone at those events to say ‘you guys are too close, you must separate’.

“Who wants to take on that responsibility, it’s just too hard.”

Woodall said the financial factor hadn’t influenced his club’s opinion, but believed it would be a significant issue for a lot of clubs.

On Saturday, the Gippsland League decided to try getting its junior competitions underway.

It will begin on July 18, with a nine-week home-and-away format. Barring any hiccups, the season will conclude with grand finals on October 10.