BRAVO to the Hampden and Warrnambool and District leagues.
Their decision to resume senior football and netball this coming weekend is gutsy, shows a can-do attitude and is well in the spirit of the game.
It looks as if crowds will be capped at 150 people, which is far from ideal, but it may be something clubs can grit their teeth through until the state government eases restrictions further.
Getting back on the park this week was always going to just be about playing. Getting crowds back through the gates will be the next step but if the Department of Health's actions have shown one thing, it's that the path out of Victoria's fourth COVID-19 lockdown will be slow and steady.
Each week will hopefully bring positive steps forward.
The leagues' ability to facilitate juniors this past week, with a very limited spectator base, was impressive.
It would be easy to put things in the too hard basket but with no cases of coronavirus or community transmission in Warrnambool since September 15 of this past year and with the government ticking off on the return of outdoor community sport, it was absolutely a responsible decision.
The QR code check-in system was easy to use at both Hampden and Warrnambool and District league games and is an important safeguard in the fight to surpress COVID-19.
Stick to that. Clubs and volunteers - or officials - have proven to be incredibly resilient throughout the pandemic and understand the challenges they're facing.
That's why a Hampden league statement released on Tuesday, which outlined the league's intention to play if restrictions lifted, was a godsend.
It gave clubs enough time to get their affairs in order and prepare for the fact they'd likely be playing on Saturday and Sunday.
You'd think every league in country Victoria is following the Hampden league's lead, but they aren't.
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The Central Highlands Football Netball League, the Geelong Football Netball League and several other leagues on Wednesday announced the limited crowd caps meant they wouldn't play this coming week.
It would be easy to put things in the too hard basket but with no cases of coronavirus or community transmission in Warrnambool since September 15, 2020 and with the government ticking off on the return of outdoor community sport, it was absolutely a responsible decision.
Footy and netball is the lifeblood of south-west communities, as it is across the state, and just taking the field is important.
Let's hope normality can reign for the rest of the season and we can see restrictions alleviated further.
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