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22 September 2021
The entire September 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By Dean Lawson
A question mark over the start of a Wimmera-Mallee 2021-22 summer-sport season has slipped into the COVID-19 spotlight with regional organisations busy adjusting plans to fit in with state roadmap directions.
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With the region’s winter-sport fraternities coming to grips with rules forcing leagues and associations to abandon finals, summer-sport leaders have now pushed back their season launches.
Cricket and tennis seasons traditionally start in early to mid-October, but leaders are now pencilling November 6 as a potential launch date based on roadmap timelines.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the new Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan on Sunday.
Roadmap direction, based on 80 percent of the population aged over 16 being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, had November 5 as an indicative date for a time when community sporting competition could resume.
Cricket Victoria North and West Country manager Tony Caccaviello said Cricket Victoria officials would meet State Government officials this week to gain more understanding of specific guidelines.
“Importantly, there is an opportunity for people to continue to train at the moment, which means they can also connect as a club,” he said.
“I would suggest to cricketers – boys, girls, adults and juniors – to dust off the gear and go and have a hit in the nets. More details will become available as time passes.”
Horsham and Grampians cricket associations will discuss potential scenarios and directions at pre-season meetings.
Grampians association confirmed on social media it was assessing directions in response to the delayed start and awaiting more information from Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia.
Horsham association president Josh Mahoney remained confident about the approaching summer, adding that competition might be able to start sooner if the state reached vaccination targets earlier than expected.
“We dealt with this type of late start last year so it is not as if we’re going in blind. We’ll just deal with whatever is put in front of us,” he said.
“We don’t have to worry about crowd restrictions, which makes it easier and less complicated for us than it was for football and netball.
“If there is any positives in a delayed start, it might be that it gives clubs a chance to sign up a few more players and for more people to come forward as umpires.”
Central Wimmera Tennis Association president Jeremy Quast shared the sentiment, suggesting the delay might provide his organisation a chance to promote the game to people who might be ‘sitting on the fence’ pondering over playing tennis this season.
“It is certainly an interesting and tough time and I know how disappointing it was for football and netball,” he said.
“We want people out there playing sport – it’s great for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing – regardless of what sport they are playing.”
Mr Quast said his association’s executive would also discuss circumstances and continue corresponding with Tennis Victoria, and similar to the cricket leaders, urged players to make the most of being able to train as clubs.
He added the association could work in with the new start date as long as there were no other interruptions.
“If we get started in December I would be disappointed. We don’t want to be pushed back any later,” he said.
Wimmera and Horsham District football and netball leagues confirmed earlier this week that based on the State Government roadmap directions, they had little option but to abandon their seasons. Both involved clubs preparing for finals.
Lawn bowls is also a major summer sport across the region and Bowls Victoria officials are working on various scenarios and how the roadmap will affect pennant seasons in regional and metropolitan Victoria.
The November 5 return date for competition based on vaccination rates also applies to competitive bowls.