By Sam Watson
CLUBS in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition have voted to wait until August 14 to resume their competition, leaving just one home and away game to be played.
AFL Gippsland recently sent out an emailing asking for clubs to vote on whether they’d like to return this weekend and play three games before finals or wait two more weeks and return on August 14.
There was no option to start on August 7 and play two games, as clubs had already expressed their desire to have an even amount of home games.
The result saw five clubs vote in favour of starting this weekend, and seven votes in favour of starting on August 14.
If football and netball was to resume this weekend, clubs were concerned about the ability of volunteers to enforce the government restrictions.
One of the major government restrictions is no crowd for at least two weeks, and obviously, no crowd means significantly less income for clubs and the less money they can use to pay their senior players.
Phillip Island president Chris Ross said the burden put on his club’s volunteers was worrying.
“I don’t know how the AFL, and the government, expect us as volunteers to stop people from coming to the game,” Ross said.
“Our grounds are public reserves, you can’t stop people from coming in.”
Dalyston president Andy Thomas said he and his committee were in a bit of a dilemma, like a few clubs would’ve been.
“We wanted the netball girls to play as many games as they could before finals, but we understand all the clubs’ reticence to get amongst it because there’s lot of financial costs,” Thomas said.
“There’s lots of rules and regulations that were almost near impossible to try and maintain for volunteers.
“Imagine someone at the gate trying to keep track of who’s coming in and getting abused for turning people back.”
And Thomas said the government clearly hadn’t taken their worries into consideration.
“That sort of stuff hasn’t been thought about by the government and I think the AFL have tried their best but it’s difficult circumstances for everyone.
“I think all along the government haven’t really had a firm handle on what it means for community sport.”
AFL Gippsland Regional Manager Nic Fogarty said he empathised with the clubs and their volunteers who are concerned about their duties and financial capabilities.
“Obviously the financial and volunteerism burden that’s been placed on clubs is far from ideal and we have plenty of empathy towards them,” Fogarty said.
“But I think all clubs are trying to make a decision in the spirit of getting back to football and returning to normal as soon as possible, which is encouraging to see.”
Ross, Thomas and Fogarty all said the round 16 draw would likely change from its original shape as some clubs needed an extra home game.
Fogarty also said the league was looking to make it as competitive as they possibly could for that last round, and one match up he expects to see is Korumburra Bena hosting Dalyston.
Dalyston were previously scheduled to host Kilcunda Bass but Kilcunda Bass need one more home game and Dalyston have played one more home game than away.
Dalyston have already played away against Kilcunda Bass, so they’ll likely be heading to Korumburra, who are also owed a home game.
The draw for round 16 will likely be determined in the coming days.
One club that was definitely keen to play all three games is the Warragul Industrials and they’ve taken to Facebook to voice their dismay with the seven clubs that voted to return on August 14.
“We are bitterly disappointed that we won’t be returning officially this weekend for our netballers and footballers who have been chomping at the bit to get back out there.”
The Dusties needed at least two games to be played to have a chance at making finals in the seniors, but the decision means Garfield cannot drop out of the top six.