Cobram Roar will not have the chance to christen the new complex at Apex Reserve until next year.
It was announced by league officials on Sunday the Albury Wodonga Football Association junior and senior seasons would not go ahead, due to increased safety risks created by a recent spike in Victorian COVID-19 cases.
Roar president Manny Artavilla expressed the dismay felt throughout the club, but acknowledged the decision was made with the community’s best interests in mind.
“It is disappointing, but that is just where things are at the moment, it is not a surprise,” Artavilla said.
“I think it was for the best for the league to make the call, it is better than umming and aahing over it.
“On Sunday we were flat out getting everything ready for our first game of the season. On the upside, we have plenty of time to make sure Apex (Reserve) is ready for next year.”
The news comes as a blow to the entire playing body at the Roar, with everyone eager to jump back into competition.
Last week, the AWFA pencilled in a July 12 return date for the league, and all of Cobram’s age-group sides had been back on the training park preparing to play.
“We had the whole club back training, with the season approaching we were looking at moving the juniors from one to two trainings a week — the seniors were already training twice a week,” Artavilla said.
“State rules meant we had to train in NSW and our senior men’s coach Bill Puckett had done some great work so we could train in Tocumwal.”
While the pin has been pulled on league play, football could go ahead in some form.
With the AWFA statement mentioning it might sanction intra-club games and representative tournaments, Artavilla said the club would explore avenues to get back on the park in some form.
“(For the intra-club games) there is a lot to go through and for players to be eligible to play they have to be registered with the club. It is something we will look at and discuss with the coaches,” he said.
“The representative tournaments are more for the juniors and, again, players have to be registered with the club to compete. We will get in contact with the parents and take the best course of action.”
Despite the rug being pulled from underneath it, Artavilla said the attitude throughout the Roar’s administration and playing body had been exemplary and he was confident the club would come back stronger next season.
“The amount of work our committee has done, I couldn’t be prouder,” he said.
“The way our players and parents have responded to the pandemic has been great. It has been challenging, but I think we will be held in good stead for 2021.”