AFL Barwon has announced all junior football and netball in the region will be able to begin play on July 18.
According to the announcement, made last week, the proposed season will include two grading rounds, a nine-round home and away season, and then a grand final. The grand finals will take place on the weekend of September 19.
For those under 18, full-contact training is now permitted, both indoor and outdoor. There is no longer a limit on participants, although gathering rules still apply to spectators.
But Surf Coast Suns Football Netball Club president Michael Thomas said there was still a lot of work involved to ensure training met protocols.
“That’s the biggest challenge. So it’s getting our volunteers trained up, it’s communicating what those protocols are to our families so they know.
“We used to encourage people to participate in the training, to stick around and be part of your kid’s sport. At the moment we can’t really do that. We’ve only got our coaches and our assistant coaches, and we’re encouraging people to drop their kids off and not linger around.”
Barwon Heads netball director Kylie Rawson similarly said the club was putting a lot of work into ensuring player safety while also trying to hold some training sessions before the season starts.
“There’s so much work involved in meeting all the guidelines and protocol that we need to meet. Hopefully, we’ll have some girls training by the end of the week, because it’s then only two weeks until the season.
“There are also a lot of people who won’t be around for school holidays, which will potentially mean they’re only got one training session before they take to the court for a game.”
Protocols are slightly different for players aged 18 and over, and a start date for Under 19 competitions is still to be announced.
AFL Barwon has proposed the season be structured the same as other junior competitions but with eight rounds instead of nine.
The return to play dates are subject to change depending on further announcements from the state government.
Initial fixtures will be announced soon.