By Sam Watson

LAST week, the Gippsland Soccer League announced the 2021 season was abandoned due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, and no league champions or individual awards will be granted.

On their Facebook page, the league said they hoped to engage the playing community through ‘Go Football’ programs over the offseason.

“We encourage all clubs and players to participate in these programs when they are announced,” the league said.

In the coming weeks, the league will send out surveys where clubs will review the 2021 season and help the league plan and prepare for 2022.

They also thanked everyone involved with the league for their participation and engagement in 2021.

The interrupted season meant the league fixtures were uneven, with some clubs playing 10 games and others playing seven.

The Drouin Dragons finished on top in the senior men’s division, and Wonthaggi United were on top in the senior women’s division.
Wonthaggi United’s Alycia

Marotta said it was a huge disappointment for the season to finish the way it did.

“We were having a really good season this year, the momentum in the club was growing,” Marotta said.

“Our under 12s are devastated because they were undefeated, and a lot of those kids move up to higher age groups next year.”

And another disheartening aspect was the upcoming milestones due to be played this season.

“One of our players is on 98 games and he was hoping to play his 100th game this year.

“From a club aspect, we were hoping that the season was going to continue but the uncertainty of when it was going to start again made it difficult.”

And Wonthaggi, like a lot of clubs in the Gippsland Soccer League, share their facilities with cricket clubs so time was running out to finish the season off.

“We’d already extended our season by four weeks to make up for missed games and now we’ve missed two of those weeks, so it was pretty inevitable.”

Marotta said it was obviously disappointing not to finish the year as champions and she completely understood why they couldn’t award it to those on top of the ladder.

“We were pretty lucky, most of the round we missed were byes, but some of the other clubs didn’t get as many games in.

“It wasn’t fair to award champions, so it was pretty much just a practice year for everyone.”

She was also concerned about the future of the sport locally if restrictions keep impacting it.

“I don’t know how you prepare or what you do, I’m hoping that players are keen to come back next year but I do think it’ll impact registrations in the future,” Marotta said.

“You’re not want to register and commit to a sport that you may or may not get to play.”

Marotta said the club will be trying to host some form of post-season presentations, but it’s too early to organise anything with the current restrictions.

“The young players especially need something, but we can’t even email people and tell people we’re going to do something because we don’t know when we can do it.”