Local football will return this Sunday with the East Gippsland Junior Football Association finals getting underway under strict COVID guidelines.
The weakening of restrictions at 11.59pm on Tuesday meant community sport could return with numerous rules to follow.
East Gippsland Football Netball League and Gippsland league will return to action a week later on August 7, with revised fixtures for the remaining rounds.
The junior finals – under 15: Lakes Entrance v Lindenow (12.30pm); Lucknow v Wy Yung (2.30pm); under 13: Lindenow v Lakes Entrance (9.30am); Wy Yung v Orbost Snowy (11am) – will take place at Bairnsdale city oval with the following rules:
- Density quotient of one person per 4sqm;
- Limited to minimum number of people required to participate in and facilitate the activity (i.e. players, coaches);
- Spectators not allowed (excludes people necessary for events such as teachers, instructors, trainers, coaches, umpires, carers, parents and guardians);
- Entry fee has been waived. Parents are invited to place a donation in the bucket at the gate;
- A program will be available at the gate. The program has a QR Code inside. Signing in using the QR Code is required.
- Hand sanitizer will be available at a number of places.
- There will be no canteen.
- Use of change rooms is yet to be confirmed. Given the density limits it is highly unlikely that changerooms will be used. Please ensure that players come ready to play.
- Players are to be sent to their parents by the coaches. Families are then to leave the venue. The league must adhere to the limits placed on numbers permitted at the ground.
- Surfaces must be wiped down between games. The league will organise to clean the toilets between games. If use changerooms are used they must be thoroughly cleaned between games as per the cleaning protocols. Clubs will be responsible for supplying their own cleaning equipment and PPE.
- All players will need to take their own drink bottles.
- Parents are asked to comply with the COVID-safe requirements set by the State Government.
East Gippsland football and netball will return with a revised draw. The season will recommence on Saturday, August 7, with the scheduled round 15. Round 16 will be played the following week (August 14) with the finals scheduled to start on August 21 and 22, with the preliminary final on August 28 and the grand final on September 4.
These dates are subject to change should the state be sent into another lockdown.
Currently no spectators are allowed for round 15 and unknown number of spectators for round 16 with restrictions expected to change once again prior to the round.
“The commissioners are aware of the financial burden on clubs playing with no crowds,” Football Netball East Gippsland administration officer, Rod Twining, said in a letter to clubs.
To this end the commissioners will waive the August Levy of $1300 for each club. This will be at a cost of $10,400 to the league. The league has already waived the club levies for April, May, June and July. This amounts to a subsidy to the senior clubs of $52,000 by the league.
“It is suggested that this additional saving be put towards paying both the football and netball umpires for games played with no or restricted crowds,” Mr Twining said.
Qualifying games for football has been reduced from three to two for this season. Clubs will note that players have a ‘Q’ after their name when they have played three or more games. Clubs with players who have played only two games must forward the name of the player to the league for verification.
Qualifying quarters for have already been reduced from 24 to 12 and the requirement for 12 quarters will remain.
“The commissioners are aware that there will be inequities in the draw, who will play who how many times and the financial burdens on clubs,” Mr Twining said.
“The commissioners appreciate the frustration caused by COVID lockdowns and the extra stress caused by the uncertainty for the remainder of the season.
“The plan is designed to get us back playing again considering player welfare, club finances and player qualifications with a clear plan forward that will see a conclusion to our season with premiers.”