Picola District league pushing ahead with season

By Alex Mitchell

While the region's football and netball leagues drop like flies, the Picola District league is pressing ahead with its season.

Despite Victoria's recent coronavirus spike, the league remains aiming for a return to play date of July 11, the same date it announced a fortnight ago.

While Department of Health and Human Services regulations state full-contact training and competition cannot return in Victoria until July 13 and July 20 respectively, Picola District league operations manager Shane Railton confirmed he had applied for special dispensation from the Victorian Government for clubs to begin those activities on July 1 and July 18.

That would allow the league to play the entirety of its first round in New South Wales — where full-contact competition will be allowed on July 1 — on July 11, before moving on with the season in both states.

The league applied for the special dispensation on Monday after restrictions were tightened at the weekend and it remains waiting for a response.

And Railton stated the league had verbal confirmation from Sports and Recreation Victoria unlimited groups of 10 people could attend a ground, theoretically solving the issues of a lack of crowds harming clubs financially.

The league is awaiting written confirmation this is the case.

Railton acknowledged the league's responsibility to ensure cases from metropolitan Victoria were not brought to the region, and said clubs would have a huge part to play in that.

“The state government has been pretty clear, people from those hot spots shouldn't be travelling,” Railton said.

“I'd imagine our clubs have an obligation to know where their players are coming from and make sure ones from those areas aren't travelling.”

Summing up the overall mood of the league's 13 clubs, the operations manager said it was fluctuating, and that any club wanting to sit out the season would be able to do so.

“To be honest, it changes every day, as does the entire situation,” he said.

“(On Wednesday) speaking with clubs, many were in a negative mindset after the Victorian dates were changed and with no certainty around crowds. That put everyone in a negative mindset, but if we've ticked those two things off you'd imagine that would change.”