LIKE many people The Standard's journalists are waiting for the coronarvirus pandemic to wane and for life to return to normal.
Sport globally is on hiatus and our reporters Justine McCullagh-Beasy, Sean Hardeman and Brian Allen are eager to talk sport via The Commentary Box.
BRIAN: There's plenty to digest this week. South-west footballers and netballers can resume training but under strict restrictions. The crux of it being footballers can only train in groups of 10 with two groups per oval. Netballers can also train in groups of 10 outdoors. It's optional, so do clubs want to get back on the track or not? Top-grade netball coaches said there were plenty of measures to get in place before returning to training. Some said football and netball training would have to return at the same time. How soon do you think football and netball teams will be back training? Is it worth the effort given the current restrictions?
Listen to this week's episode of The Main Break with Portland's Rhys Egan:
JUSTINE: Reading the AFL Victoria guidelines for the first phase of training did make me feel for the clubs having to implement the measures. It's a decent check-list to tick off and, to be honest, will be glorified kick-to-kick. There is no indication of when contact training will resume. I understand the need to separate and keep contact to a minimum at this stage but was surprised to read there would only be two groups of 10 on the oval at any one time. Ovals are large and teams have more than 20 in their squads so I would've thought dividing the oval into three sections and having three groups might have worked better?
SEAN: I feel it would! Traditionally there have been three sections of the ground. Back, midfield and forward, why can't that be the same for these guidelines? That is an answer to a rhetorical question we will never know because these are the guidelines we have to go by. I feel people will just be happy to be training with their mates again and kicking a footy or passing a netball is still soothing, even if it is a glorified kick-to-kick or just passing. In times of isolation some company is better than nothing so I feel we just need to accept what we are given and go with that. We just have to be patient and make the most of what we have now.
BRIAN: Agreed Sean, remaining calm and patient is the approach to take. It's been great to see south-west clubs be patient throughout this whole process. I haven't noticed any kicking and screaming about the coronavirus situation. I'd be taking up the chance to have a kick or throw among friends if I was a club footballer or netballer. But I'd be doing it for social interaction and exercise. Time moves fast and it's nearly June. Nearly half of the normal season is gone. And November for senior pre-seasons will roll around quickly - hopefully there's very few restrictions by then. That should be the aim for senior teams. But I still would love to see a seniors carnival-style competition this year on one weekend just to promote community spirit. We have had presidents speak to us about at least getting juniors up and going and I think that should be the goal for this winter. It's less costly but will come with challenges such as how to manage parents and guardians watching. Do you think junior football and netball is the realistic aim at present? Am I writing off the seniors too soon?
JUSTINE: My early optimism for senior football this season has evaporated. Talking to clubs about the financial burden they were to face, if games went ahead without crowds, makes me think the sensible decision would be to call the season off and plan for 2021. We don't want to lose clubs to this situation. But, if feasible, a community football weekend would be something for people to look forward to. It's been pleasing to see clubs throw their energy behind junior football and netball and the fledgling female football competitions. It would be fantastic if children and teenagers could play this year. As Old Collegians president Jason Moloney told us on The Main Break podcast recently - there are different motivating factors for junior and senior players. Kids just want to play with their mates - they don't need the crowd or community functions.
SEAN: It's a good thing to throw support behind. They are the future of clubs and if they can retain or even attract new players during this time it will set up a strong future. Support juniors now and they will in turn support you tenfold over the next 10 or more years as they progress through the ranks and into the senior team. Senior football will always be there as long as there are juniors to progress up to it. I agree to just scrap the senior seasons, focus on rebuilding the clubs for the future with the juniors and slowly return to normal. Do you feel this is the perfect time for a resurgence in the strength of junior football and netball?
BRIAN: Yes, let's do what we can to make the juniors happen. There will still be plenty of work to go into it to keep everyone safe. Can you think of any other major considerations beyond how to manage spectators? Obviously, there are measures like sanitising the ball and no handshakes. Shared facilities, such as change rooms and toilets, is another big consideration.
JUSTINE: I guess social distancing is the big hurdle. At the moment we're required to stay 1.5 metres apart so that rules out contact sport. The AFL and NRL have exemptions because they have thorough testing measures not available to the wider community. Hopefully we get some good news in regards to social distancing soon.
BRIAN: Yes, we just need to wait another week and a half for further clarity. Excited to see what comes next. Sean, want to get your thoughts on The Last Dance Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan which we discussed last week. The final episodes were released early this week. It's received plenty of praise and criticism. For me, it was just great to see all the behind-the-scenes footage and game footage of the '90s. What did you think mate?
SEAN: I thought it was a really good! I had a basic knowledge of that era but this was a real eye-opener into the G.O.A.T.
Other The Commentary Box entries:
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