THE Mid Gippsland Football Netball League (MGFNL) has cancelled its junior competition for 2020 following a “worrying increase in cases” in their catchment.

Mid Gippsland’s junior competitions, comprising thirds football and 17s and 15s netball, were scheduled to commence this weekend – incorporating junior teams from Alberton Football Netball League clubs.

MGFNL president Gary Matthews announced the decision last night (Wednesday, July 15).

“When our league decided to hold the competition, the COVID situation appeared to be under control and improving,” he said in a statement.

“Sadly, since then, the public health emergency has dramatically worsened.

“Although Gippsland is not yet under stage 3 restrictions, there has been a worrying increase in cases in our catchment of Baw Baw, La Trobe and South Gippsland.”

“Many of our junior teams are members of the Central Gippsland Junior Football League. This league cancelled its junior completion on Monday due to the worsening situation. It did so in the best interests of its players, volunteers and parents.

“The health and safety of our players, volunteers, members and spectators is our first priority.

“It has become apparent that holding the competition would cause great anxiety and stress to many taking part.

“Our volunteers would be in the front line and potentially exposed to this deadly disease. We no longer feel justified in taking this risk due to the spread of the disease in our region, and believe our contribution to fight the disease and limit its spread is to cancel our junior season.

“When we announced the season would go ahead we were very mindful of the need to give our young people a sense of normality in these troubled times and improve their resilience and mental health.

“Sadly, when balancing the risk posed by the disease, we believe the right decision is to cancel the season and plan for 2021 and beyond.

“We very much thank all those who worked so hard to organise the competition and sincerely apologise for the disappointment our decision will cause.”