THE North Gippsland Football-Netball League has cancelled the rest of its season.
The league made the decision on Friday as it eventually became clear there could be no practical way of staging an equitable finals series.
The NGFNL had remained steadfast in its determination to play a finals series this season, even if it just meant playing a grand final between the top two teams.
In the wash-up, the following will occur.
A minor premiership cup will be awarded to all teams who finished on top of the ladder after Round 11 of the home-and-away season. Round 11 signified the point in the season where every club had played each other once and every club had endured a season bye;
No premiership flag or premiership medals will be awarded;
League best and fairest awards will be delivered and formalised;
Junior teams that went through the season undefeated will be recognised with a minor premier and undefeated medal created for distribution. The recipients are Churchill (under 18 football) and Sale City (17 and under and 15 and under netball), and;
The NGFNL intends to pre tape and produce a best and fairest award ceremony that will be available for download and viewing on AFL grand final eve.
League president David Kyle wrote to all clubs to outline the NGFNL board’s decision making process.
“You should all know nothing is considered lightly and nor without lengthy periods of consideration and consultancy where appropriate,” the letter read. “We all find ourselves anchored and locked in uncharted waters, and not only are they uncharted waters but with an environment congealed with ongoing uncertainty and with what seems constant directional change from those who govern us above.
“The board understand this drives frustration, and we equally understand that we all crave clarity to enable us to plan and execute outcomes within community sport.
“Despite what any other league may be communicating, for which they are rightfully entitled to do, our board sees many significant challenges to deliver an abridged finals competition.”
The NGFNL pointed to the following as some of the challenges it faced:
The extension of the current lockdown eradicating at least a further two weeks of ability to return to play, inclusive of time to prepare and train;
Suggestion that should restrictions lift in regional Victoria, they will not include the return to play of community sport;
Occupational health and safety responsibilities given no games have been played for nine weeks and the 14 day preparation for play as recommended by AFL Victoria;
Player engagement and an uncertain pathway for many players who reside in Melbourne or work interstate, and;
Strain on volunteers and umpires.
“Fairness and equity of all matters in this space has been at the forefront of the boards mind and throughout our decision-making processes we have been extremely cognisant of this within our final’s series and brand,” the letter continued.
“How do we balance one scenario against another or one club’s ability to advance against any other participant?
“In conclusion, I trust we all understand most of season 2021 has been a tricky space to navigate and anyone involved in community sport would have been challenged one way or another.
“The challenges of getting the gang back together have been immense, the drain on volunteers has been like no other and the support of sponsors at every level has been inspiring and I thank you all.
“If there is anything positive to come from this news it is that your board has spoken about what can we do in 2022 that is different and engaging? What can we do to rebuild the value in community sport?
“We now have some extra thinking time to ponder the ideas we already have in the suggestion box.
“So, whilst 2021 did not conclude as we all
envisaged, I look forward to season 2022 with renewed enthusiasm.”