The Omeo District Football Netball League (ODFNL) held out as long as possible, but became the last local league to abandon its season amid the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday night.
The delegates of the ODFNL came together for their first-ever meeting by video conference to discuss what should happen in regard to the football and netball season, voting unanimously not to proceed with the 2020 season.
“The clubs based their decision on current information available from the Chief Medical Officer, the Victorian Government and AFL Victoria/Netball Victoria,” league president, Ray Gallagher, said.
“Two clubs, Omeo-Benambra and Swan Reach, had made the call earlier, while the four other clubs had been optimistically hoping restrictions may have eased enough by the middle of this month. This may have allowed for a shortened season in our little league where we are used to smallish crowds.
“Obviously, with things going pear-shaped in our capital, the clubs decided that it would be irresponsible to try and proceed with our competition. They were particularly wary of exposing their more experienced volunteers and supporters to any potential health risks, the burden all the new rules and regulations would place on their ever-diminishing group of volunteers and the high level of uncertainty the whole COVID-19 crisis is creating.”
The clubs will now start to plan for the 2021 season with the hope that coronavirus will be gone and football and netball can return.
All clubs said they are looking forward to having all six clubs back playing next year.
“I would like to pass on my wholehearted thanks to all players, volunteers, sponsors and supporters for their patience and support this year,” Mr Gallagher said.
“I mostly feeI for our younger players, especially any top age players, who are going to miss their year to shine.
“I would also like to acknowledge the help and wisdom that has been forthcoming from the committee, the delegates, AFL Gippsland, East Gippsland Football Netball League and our umpiring association during this challenging COVID-19 period and the bushfires that preceded this.
“If there was ever a season where we needed our sport it was this year, but it just wasn’t to be.
“The main thing is for everyone to stay safe, do your bit to keep your communities COVID free and hit 2021 fresher and keener than ever before.”