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AFLBH drops festival bid

Wednesday, 12th August, 2020

Some of the action between North and Central last year. Some of the action between North and Central last year.

By Emily Ferguson

AFL Broken Hill has decided not to proceed with their proposed September Festival of Football, because of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

AFL BH President Andrew Schmidt released a statement, saying the board’s main priority is the safety of the local football community.

“With no sign of restrictions easing around game-day requirements, including limited spectator numbers and the inability to use change rooms added with uncertainty around player availability and our clubs being able to trade uninhibited, the proposed September Festival of Football will not proceed,” he said.

“With the pandemic showing no signs of abating the safety, well-being and care of our football community is the Board’s main priority.

“There has been an uptake with some of our schools to have AFL-based programs in the second half of the year and we will continue to work with them to deliver these school-based clinics.

“AFL Broken Hill Board members would like to thank the local clubs for their input and passion for the game in these challenging times.”

North Football Club President Ben Victory said they were against the idea of a month of football in September, due to lack of player interest and the risk of injury.

“We went to our players and coaches again and got some of the key stakeholders of the club and their views on it. Our numbers were definitely not there for women and only a couple of interested male players,” he said. 

“So we’re really interested in a longer season next year and changing the format a little bit to have gala days and that, so we think looking forward to 2021 is the best option, hopefully with restrictions easing and getting back to some sort of normal world.”

Victory said it just wasn’t viable for them as a club.

“We haven’t trained since February, everyone has been safe, staying at home and doing the right thing and we think that four weeks of football would really only create injuries or forfeits.”

West Football Club President Wincen Cuy said West were “happy to have a go at it” but fielding a side could have been an issue.

“We were of the opinion that we would put some sort of male side on the track, it might have been made up of league players, reserves and under 18 players so we were happy to basically get out there and have a kick around.

“We also did say though, even at the best of times, we would have struggled to get 30 female players but would have attempted to get a female team on the paddock each week.

“So whilst we were happy to have a go at it, we did understand that there would be some limitations and restrictions that wouldn’t necessarily see everybody being able to do it,” said Cuy. 

“From a playing point of view, we’ll look at what kind of activity we can do with our juniors, we’ll get our junior coordinators and coaches in to see if we can hold some weekly or fortnightly get together, making sure that we don’t lose any of the kids to other sports and make sure that when we do move into 2021 we still have reasonably good numbers.

“We’ll be looking at over the course of the next few weeks, once the club is fully renovated, opening the club back up again under the COVID restrictions and perhaps watching a few games of football down there and some other activities we have planned,” said Cuy.

Central Football Club President, Jonah Smith said he was disappointed that there won’t be any football played locally this year but understands the reasoning behind it.

“On some levels it’s disappointing that there won’t be any footy played in Broken Hill but in saying that in the current situations it’s probably the best call from everyone’s point of view. I think it’s hard to get everything organised with the uncertainty around everything but ultimately it is unusual not to have any footy played,” said Smith. 

“We were for it if we were able to get the commitment from the players and ultimately I’m not sure if we would have got there really with the numbers from having a training, and that’s for numerous reasons but I think the main reason behind that is just really the situation as it stands.

“We understand the situation, we understand the call that Broken Hill AFL made but if we could have achieved it we would have been all for it but it didn’t look like we would be able to get it across the line.”

“That’s all we can do so we’ll focus on 2021, put our best foot forward and start working on what that looks like. I think everyone is hopeful that next season will be back to normal and I’m hoping that this doesn’t continue through the 2021 season... but it’s still a while away so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to see a full season of football as it normally is,” said Smith.  

“We’re still working towards hopefully opening the club at some point but with the restrictions that’s difficult but as a board we’re working towards that and it’s one of those situations that we’re playing by ear.” 

The South Football Club was contacted but unavailable for comment.


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