Roadmap ends finals hope

Mathieson medallist Harry Benson in action for St Mary's against South Barwon. (Red Onion)

Victoria’s new reopening roadmap has ended hopes of local football and netball finals going ahead, with AFL Barwon confirming their cancellation on Sunday.

State government’s Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan, released on Sunday, states that community sport will return in regional Victoria once the state reaches 80 per cent of people over 16 fully vaccinated.

The roadmap outlines an indicative date of November 5 for this, leaving insufficient time for the football and netball seasons to conclude in 2021.

“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish what we started in 2021 after all the work put in by the clubs this season,” AFL Barwon acting region general manager Sean Atkinson said.

“It has been a challenging year for all the club volunteers who need to be commended for their tireless work to allow participants to play football and netball.

“The AFL Barwon Commission has endeavoured to keep the season going to try to get a conclusion, however the decision was eventually made by the Victorian Government and the Chief Health Officer.

“I am extremely proud of the AFL Barwon staff for their excellent commitment and hard work throughout a difficult time for our community.

“Whilst it’s disappointing that competitions couldn’t be finished for season 2021, we have always been guided by the government’s health advise.”

AFL Barwon leagues had already lost several rounds of competition this year due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Atkinson thanked AFL Barwon’s partners, players, officials, volunteers, and supporters for their continued support throughout the 2021 season.

“We look forward to having everyone back for a bigger and better season 2022,” he said.

Cancelled competitions:

• Geelong Football and Netball League

• Bellarine Football and Netball League

• All Colac & District Football and Netball League

• All AFL Barwon senior women’s football, junior football and netball

The AFL Barwon Commission is still considering whether or not to award recognition to top-ranked sides in the absence of finals.

The commission expects to announce a decision in coming weeks.