Football postponed

Picture Damjan Janevski

Tara Murray

There will be no local football in Melbourne’s north-west until at least May after leagues postponed the start of seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Melbourne’s six metro competitions announced they will push back the start of the season to May 2.

Practice matches have been banned until May 2, and clubs have been recommended not to train in that period.

The situation will be reassessed on April 14.

Locally, the suspension affects the Western Region, Essendon District and Northern football leagues, and the Victorian Amatuer Football Association.

“The decision has been made to manage the COVID-19 issue for community football, netball and umpiring with a staged approach,” a joint statement from the six leagues said.

“A collective decision has been made to postpone all community senior and junior football and netball competitions until the weekend of Saturday, May 2, 2020.

“This decision has been reached with consideration to consistency, league and club sustainability and the health and welfare of all stakeholders.”

Just hours earlier, the AFL recommended that all AFL or AFL Victoria-managed leagues postpone their seasons until at least May 31.

This includes AFL Goldfields competitions, the Ballarat and Riddell District football netball leagues and the AFL Goldfields’ women’s competition.

In a statement, AFL Goldfields said it had accepted the recommendations to postpone all training and matches until May 31.

“Following lengthy consultation with AFL Victoria and government health experts, recommendations have been passed down for all community football leagues, Auskick and school programs in Victoria to postpone training and matches until 31st May,” the statement said.

“All league boards will determine how their season will look from here and fixtures will be created over the next few weeks to reflect the new dates.

“This is a challenging time for everyone concerned. Knowing the positive impact that football and netball clubs have on our local communities, we will be working hard to ensure our seasons are ready to go when deemed safe.”

The decision to postpone competitions comes after many clubs had already cancelled training, practice matches and functions.

The Victorian Football League and NAB League competitions had already postponed their seasons to at least May 31.

AFL Central Victoria leagues, including the Bendigo Football Netball League, early on Tuesday made the decision not to play until the first weekend in May.