The SANFL will work through the remaining four weeks of its minor round season, starting again on August 7, following a one-week South Australian lockdown, but says it’s a “distinct possibility” that the finals series may be pushed back.
The 144-year-old competition was forced into chaos last week when a statewide lockdown was put in place by the State Government.
A week on, the government today announced that all community and local sports training would now be permissible following the conclusion of the lockdown, but games on the coming weekend would not.
“From a SANFL perspective we’re really buoyed by the announcements today that our clubs – from SANFL level right through to community football and SANFL juniors – will be able to return to training from tomorrow,” SANFL CEO Darren Chandler said.
“We’ll be able to have games commencing in the weekend of 7th of August, which is terrific.
“It’s certainly been a challenging time for our football community, however, we’ve shown before that we’re really resilient and our teams are able to adapt very very quickly and get things back on track.
With no set fixture announced yet, the remaining four minor round games each team is set to play will be completed with a regulation finals series to follow.
“From a SANFL competition perspective, we’ve still got a fair bit to work through with exact details, but as we’ve said previously, we’ve had flexibility with the split round which is programmed and the ability to put the season back if need be,” Chandler said.
“So we’re working through those parameters at the moment, and we’re really confident that in the next couple of days we’ll be able to release something and ensure that the full round of SANFL fixtures is completed.
“There’s a fair bit still to work through, but we’re very confident, we’ve had some really positive discussions with our SANFL clubs and we’ve got a clear plan in place we can finalise.”
With the Adelaide and Port Adelaide squads currently in Victoria, there is now more certainty around the road ahead for their SANFL teams, with Chandler ensuring that the competition is “working through it”.
“Well that was planned to have a Showdown then anyway, as a curtain-raiser to the [AFL] curtain raiser at Adelaide Oval, so we’re certainly hoping that remains and that they’ll be playing the Showdown on that weekend,” he said.
But with so much reliant on the directives of SA Health, Chandler admits that the finish to the season could very well be later than originally anticipated.
“Look, that’s a distinct possibility,” he said.
“We’ve said from the outset, we have a split round and the ability to move our season back a couple of weeks if we need to so that’s certainly a distinct possibility which we’ll be able to confirm for you in the next couple of days.
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Chandler admitted his satisfaction in the way that the clubs had dealt with this break on the back of a longer stint on the sidelines last year which caused a financial hit.
“The clubs have been really good, they understand that it’s not a perfect situation that we’re in and they’re working very closely with us,” he said.
“The players have been great – they were great last year as we all know, they put their hands up to play for nothing to keep the competition going – and I’ve got no doubt that the players and the clubs have got that strong mindset just to finish the season and do it really well.”
There is also a significant question marking hanging over the remainder of the country and community season schedule as well, however, those involved in football across the state should rest assured knowing a return is imminent.
“We’re also really focused to make sure that the thousands of junior and community players out there get the opportunity to complete their season,” Chandler said.
“So we’ve been working closely with our volunteers in community footy and providing that support to allow them to finish their season as they would like.
“It’s just so important for the local communities and the health and wellbeing of young people in our society to continue to play sport.”
The SANFL season was scheduled to consist of 19 minor rounds, including a split across the weekends of July 31/August 1 and August 7/8.
All of the round 16 games were meant to be played last Saturday, with Sturt hosting North Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens taking on Central District at home, West Adelaide travelling to South Adelaide, Norwood doing battle with Adelaide and Port Adelaide welcoming Glenelg.
Glenelg currently sits atop the SANFL league ladder, having won 14 in a row without fault in 2021 – its centenary year.
The competition was postponed until June in 2020 as a result of a South Australian lockdown in March, however, the season continued towards its natural conclusion unaffected.
If you would like to read the SANFL’s latest statement, you can do so here.
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