By LIAM DURKIN
LOCAL sport was dealt a further crippling blow last Thursday, as the state was plunged into yet another lockdown.
To borrow from cricketing parlance, with
community sport now shut down half a dozen times since the start of the pandemic, the latest lockdown well and truly hit the majority of people for six.
It is the fourth time this year a snap lockdown has resulted in local sport being cancelled, following lockdowns in February and May extending into June and another that ended just a fortnight ago.
Players across the Gippsland League and Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League had been looking forward to returning to the field of play for the first time in three weeks, before the red flag was put up on Thursday.
Clubs were still able to train on Thursday night, but had to be in lockdown by 8pm.
Just what is to become of the football season remains to be seen, but given the current lockdown isn’t scheduled to end until this Thursday, there are doubts as to whether or not there will be games this weekend either.
The current timeline sets a nightmarish scenario for fixtures in the Gippsland League and MGFNL, who are both facing a race against the clock to ensure all teams play each other once.
In the Gippsland League, one more round needs to be completed for this to be the case, while the MGFNL still has to play two rounds to constitute a fair and equitable season.
Not even the ‘third time lucky’ adage has been enough to see Gippsland League rivals Moe and Traralgon face off, as the teams have now had their match abandoned three times.
A running joke that either Moe or Traralgon keep telling Premier Dan Andrews to put the state into lockdown to avoid playing each other has ensued in the weeks since the match was supposed to go ahead on July 17.
The North Gippsland Football-Netball League will not be faced with this problem as it has already abandoned its home-and-away season and will play finals as originally scheduled, commencing August 21.
The NGFNL season was culled after Round 11, at which time all teams had played each other once.
Those in soccer circles met the same fate.
Unlike their footballing counterparts, the Latrobe Valley Soccer League played a round of senior and junior matches the previous weekend, albeit under very tight restrictions.
Restrictions at the time allowed community sport to resume, but no spectators were allowed to attend. LVSL clubs voted unanimously to play, while the league took the praiseworthy step of covering referee fees in senior and junior grades.
In a statement, Football Victoria said it had hopes players would be back on the pitch in a matter of days.
“At this stage, we anticipate that competitions will resume as scheduled next weekend,” it said.
“We encourage all clubs and associations to stay connected with parents and players to prepare them for the resumption of football.”
Like soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey and junior football also got a one-week restart, but will again have to be shelved until the lockdown is lifted.
With virtually two sporting seasons now wiped out due to COVID, battle fatigue from players, coaches and club committees is certainly showing.
In the eyes of most a cancelled 2020 made people realise how much they missed playing sport, but to go through it again may well have the reverse effect as it has made players demoralised, deflated and in the worst cases – defeated.