Sports teams back in action

Footballers' including Keilor's Brett Stillman returned to the field on Saturday. (Damjan Janevski) 243420_04

Tara Murray

Sport was back in action at the weekend, much to the pleasure of sports-mad Melburnians

Clubs and players had been left on the sidelines for two weeks due to the state’s fifth COVID-19 lockdown.

Players nervously waited last Tuesday to find out whether the lockdown would end and whether sport would be allowed.

Their prayers were answered, withsport was given the go ahead, and most teams jumped straight back into it.

But it wasn’t all good news for clubs.

Attendance was limited to only those required to participate in and facilitate the activity, with no crowds allowed.

It means bars and canteens are closed, in a financial blow for clubs.

In a statement on its website, the Western Region Football League said it and AFL Victoria recommended that senior clubs and players alike strongly consider reducing, if not forgoing altogether, player payments this weekend.

“While recognising some players will rely on match payments more so than others, the significant impact to the volunteers and the long-term sustainability of the club by a playing group willingly reducing/forgoing player payments this weekend cannot be understated,” the statement said.

“The WRFL strongly encourages all player senior leadership groups to consider what measures they can implement for the long-term benefit of their club.”

Head of AFL Victoria Brad Scott said that AFL Victoria welcomed the announcement that the lockdown would be lifted, from Auskick through to senior club football.

“With 90 leagues across the state, more than 170,000 registered players, tens of thousands of volunteers, umpires and coaches can now get back to their local clubs and participate, which is fantastic for everyone involved in our game,” he said.

“While it is great that football is back, not having spectators allowed does create challenges and we will continue to work closely with the government and health authorities to advocate for what community football needs, while the health and safety of everyone remains a priority.

“We urge Victorians to adhere to the government’s rules regarding spectators, which will help ensure we can get crowds back at community football soon.”

The Essendon District Football League has been forced to cut either one or two regular season games from its women’s and men’s competitions following the two-week break.

Only its premier division men’s will have a normal finals series, with all the other finals series reduced by a week.

Football isn’t the only sport back, with basketball, netball and soccer teams also returning to competition.

The Big V basketball competition will extend its regular season by two weeks to accommodate the postponed rounds. There’s changes to the finals make up, with all finals series now top fours.

The Victorian Netball League will return to the court from this week, with the City West Falcons hoping to continue its winning run.

The Falcons remain one of the premiership favourites, having not lost a game this season.