District leagues were left with no choice but to abandon their junior seasons following the announcement of new coronavirus restrictions at the weekend.
Goulburn Valley League officials had planned a board meeting for Sunday night to discuss the potential cancellation of the remainder of the season, but when Victorian premier Daniel Andrews got in first it made the choice a formality.
“The cancellation of round two games this weekend after several clubs advised the league late Friday afternoon that there may be possible positive cases that may potentially be linked to several GVL clubs, was the beginning of the end,” league chairman David Roff said.
“Subsequent to this, the state government provided advice on stage three restrictions.
“We have been monitoring the situation closely. The board has tried everything we could to facilitate a competition for our juniors, with the assistance of our clubs, but this is now not possible.”
League operations manager Josephine Spencer looks forward to planning for next season.
“Whilst the 2020 season has been different to any we have ever known, we will continue to support our clubs and begin our planning for 2021 with all 12 clubs ready to participate,” Spencer said.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our club volunteers, club executives and committees, players, community members, our valued sponsors and AFL Goulburn Murray for their patience and ongoing support as we have been navigating through these unprecedented times.”
Shepparton District Junior Football League action was seen across three weekends, but it too will now look towards next year.
“We can be disappointed, and we are, but more than that the season has not been for nothing,” president Mark Lambourn said.
“We can only be proud of the way in which club officials sought to embrace an unusual set of circumstances and tried to make it work.
“It has been a collaborative effort and shows just how important junior sport is to our community.”
Lambourn had plenty of praise for the leadership and diligence of AFL Goulburn Murray netball and league operations manager Peita Sleeth, as well as all involved behind the scenes to get the competition up and running.
“Peita has been amazing and tireless in what she has done behind the scenes, creating fixtures, changing fixtures, assisting with rulings and doing whatever it takes to make it happen,” he said.
“We gave it every chance. We gave it our best for the kids to have some sport and recreation and unfortunately events beyond our control have brought the season to an end.
“But I’m excited by the level of commitment and passion all our stakeholders have for providing a competition for kids of all ages to participate in football at any level. With that attitude we’ll be back stronger than ever in 2021.”
All Goulburn Valley Hockey Association action has been suspended, with a final call on this year's campaign to be made following an executive meeting next week.