AFL BARWON boss Will McGregor has paid tribute to the region’s football and netball clubs after close to 500 junior teams took to local ovals and courts last weekend.
It was the first round of matches in a shortened season that had its start delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the norm, I thought it was really positive. There was a lot of happy people and smiling faces,” McGregor said.
“The clubs I attended did some terrific work in managing, and it seemed like everyone was fairly cooperative and supportive of the protocols.
“It took a lot of time to get to the weekend. I’m certainly proud of the AFL Barwon staff and the operations team for putting together the fixturing and managing the whole operations process of the junior footy and netball in fairly testing times.”
The start of the season came just a couple of days after the AFL Barwon Commission cancelled both the senior women’s football and under-19 football and netball competitions.
The local governing body was left with no choice following the Victorian Government’s decision to reinstate restrictions around contact training and return-to-play following a spike in coronavirus cases in metropolitan Melbourne.
McGregor said the uncertainty that comes with a pandemic had been AFL Barwon’s biggest challenge.
“Fixturing is challenging at the best of times when you have over 500 team nominations.
“But when on the morning of or the night before we’re having to manage issues related to potential COVID cases, and playing a very precautionary role in assisting to potentially not enter their teams, that throws a whole new dynamic in.”
An increase in positive diagnoses of coronavirus across the region, especially in Greater Geelong, has AFL Barwon closely monitoring the situation.
McGregor said they were looking at a range of factors.
“One is the club feedback. At this point, we’re generally getting really good club support in the benefits of playing.
“But if that club feedback alters to the point where clubs aren’t necessarily supportive of us continuing then we’ll reassess.
“The other factor is the health of the region and the number of COVID cases.
“We’re speaking to local health authorities weekly on getting relevant updates there.
“There is also the government advice. The government advice is we’re able to play junior sport at this point in time, and that hasn’t altered.”
Tom King is the editor of krockfootball.com.au. Head to the site for more regional football coverage.