Modified footy leagues called off

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By Luke Voogt

Modified senior football and netball competitions will not go ahead in 2020, AFL Barwon has announced.

A “considerable lack of team numbers” made a modified format “unfeasible”, despite “strong initial interest” following the cancellation of local home and away seasons, AFL Barwon said in statement on Tuesday.

“While it has remained AFL Barwon’s intention to return to play, our main priority of maintaining the health and sustainability of the region has never wavered,” the organisation said.

“We thank all our clubs for their continued hard work and support, allowing AFL Barwon to exhaust all avenues of senior competition in 2020.

“The commitment to social connectivity and the mental health of participants and the community from the AFL Barwon region has been first class.”

A small number of Geelong Football Netball League clubs remained interested in the modified format, according to AFL Barwon.

But some of those clubs could field only a single football or netball side, while others had indicated they could pull out at any stage, AFL Barwon said.

In “extensive club feedback” teams also indicated other concerns including potential injuries from a lack of preparation, which could impact players’ 2021 seasons.

Clubs also cited continued uncertainty regarding state-wide restrictions and a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

“The intention of the format was for it to be played under less burden for volunteers and allow the public to watch football and netball,” AFL Barwon said.

“However, following AFL Victoria’s updated Return to Play protocols, particularly regarding ‘necessary’ spectators, this is no longer achievable.

“AFL Barwon will now assist clubs in senior practice match coordination if and when clubs wish to proceed, as well as the continued management and implementation of required protocols.”

AFL Barwon remained committed to restarting junior football and netball from July 18 and senior female football later this year, it said.

“We look forward to seeing clubs immerse themselves in their junior football and netball and senior female football programs this season.”

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