U19s, female football postponed

Barwon Heads' Zedekai Copland marks during last years' Under 19s division two grand final. (Anna McNeil)

AFL Barwon has postponed the return of under 19 competitions and women’s football in line with state government directions following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

The organisation on Saturday announced training for the competitions, initially scheduled for Monday, July 13, would not go ahead.

AFL Barwon also abandoned its plans to resume under 19 football and netball on August 1 and senior female football on August 2.

The decision followed Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton announcing a halt to all full-contact training and competition across Victoria.

Prior to the announcement, the state government had scheduled for full-contact training and competition, for people 19 or older, to resume on July 13 and 20 respectively in regional Victoria.

But with a significant increase in coronavirus cases in Melbourne, and active cases present in some regional communities, Professor Sutton determined that sport in regional Victoria must remain non-contact.

“This decision will be tough for many regional Victorian clubs and communities and it was not taken lightly,” Community Sport Minister Ros Spence said in statement.

“But [the decision] is essential to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

“In better news for many of our regions, full training and competition for players aged 18 and under can continue.

“Further easing of restrictions, including target dates, will be considered by Professor Sutton by the end of July.

“The Victorian Government will continue to work with the sport and recreation sector to explore recovery options and help clubs return to play when it is safe to do so.”

The Sport and Recreation Return to Play Expert Advisory Panel is reviewing return to play plans and providing advice to state sporting associations.

The panel has reviewed more than 90 plans from the association and another 60 from clubs to date, according to government.

State government has spent $40 million in its Community Sport Sector Short-term Survival Package, to provide more than 5000 clubs across Victoria with a grant of $1000 each.

Further information on the new restrictions is available on the DHHS website.