Still up in the air

Hume League has opted to delay the season start until crowds of 300 are allowed while uncertainty surrounds the Riverina and Farrer leagues start.

While Narrandera Eagles are due to give some clarity around a start date this week, Cootamundra electorate Labor candidate Mick Veitch has slammed the state government for leaving clubs stranded.

Riverina and Farrer league clubs were meeting this week to sort out a return to training and potential start date for the season.

An Eagles spokesperson said an official update would be available this week.

The NSW Labor Opposition has called on the Berejiklian Government to finally release their “return to play” plan for community sport and recreation facilities in the Cootamundra electorate, and give organisations certainty for the months ahead.

Despite calls from state sporting organisations for clear guidelines and the release of return to play plans from various states across the country, sport and recreation in NSW has been left to fend for themselves with Acting Minister Geoff Lee and the Office of Sport still refusing to present any clear guidelines or a return to play plan.

NSW Shadow Minister for Sport Lynda Voltz said sporting and recreation organisations have been left out in the cold by the Berejiklian Government.

“States across Australia have presented clear and manageable guidelines for the restart of sport and recreation, yet NSW once again has been left with no plan,” Ms Voltz said. “Where is the plan for football or gymnastics to return? Where is the plan for gyms to re-open?

“Far from advocating on their behalf, Geoff Lee and the Office of Sport have told sport and recreation in NSW to work it out for themselves; it’s unacceptable.”

Labor spokesperson for the Cootamundra electorate Mick Veitch said local organisations are suffering deeply by the lack of clear guidelines for a return.

“Sport and recreation organisations are at the heart of every community in the Cootamundra electorate,” Mr Veitch said. “It’s time Geoff Lee and the Office of Sport presented a clear plan for community sport and recreation to return.

“The thousands of participants in the Cootamundra electorate deserve to know when they can return to the field, court or gym.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the current Public Health Orders do not prevent any sporting organisation from resuming training.

“NSW sporting organisations can start training immediately as long as they comply with the current Public Health Orders, including training in maximum groups of 10 people and following the recommended physical distancing measures of 1.5 metres,” Ms Cooke said. “It is up to the sporting organisation to adapt or modify their sport, to be in line with the Public Health Orders.”

The confusion around the return to play has resulted in Lockhart Demons Football and Netball club calling a “where we are up to” Meeting for June 2 with AFL NSW regional manager Marc Geppart.

Demons president Bob Mathews issued a statement following a Hume Football League board meeting and media reports the season had been abandoned.

“At this time the position of the majority of clubs was that playing into October was not a preferred option,” Mathews said. “The Lockhart football club (and the league) will be guided by future government decisions and will call off the season at the appropriate time.”

Mathews said senior football and netball players returned to training last week.

Hume Football League president Brendan I’Anson said the pressure needed to come off clubs and volunteers.

I’Anson said the Hume league would be delayed until at least 300 spectators could attend games.

“We have been through hell in the last three to four weeks with lots of questions, if, but and when,” he said. “Until we can get 300 people on the park, which makes it financially viable – we will play sport as soon as we can.

“We need to train and have that social aspect but we can’t do it with no crowd. We can’t have players playing in the 14s and then going straight home when mum’s got netball and dad does the boundary for the seniors.

“We need to be mindful of our senior volunteers – we need to find 70 volunteers for jobs at every game.

“The clubs said they didn’t want the option of going into October so the option of a real season is almost gone.”

I’Anson said many smaller clubs did not want to take a financial risk on a small gate.

“The Riverina and Farrer leagues have a few more weeks up their sleeve and there are less sides in that competition.

“They still haven’t got a start date – we have presidents pretty stressed about what is happening.

“Stick with us, it is important to get sport going in some way shape or form as it is important to our country areas to do so.”

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