Football Victoria is confident football will be played in the state in 2020, and they’re willing to go all the way into December to do it.
NPL and grassroots football – which covered FFA Cup, State Leagues, youth, MiniRoos, and futsal – was suspended by the FFA and Member Federations on March 17 in an attempt to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Initially slated for review on April 14, that hibernation was then pre-emptively extended until at least the end of May on April 1 as State and Federal Governments imposed more stringent restrictions on government gatherings – with Football Queensland (FQ) going one step further in suspending football under its jurisdiction until at least June 30.
On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC Radio that “low risk” activities such as sporting activities and the number of people allowed to gather were among the first measures that are likely to be eased if current measures continued to be observed by the public and new COVID-19 cases remained low.
Two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Victoria on Tuesday, while 22 were confirmed nationally. The death toll rose to 74 after the confirmed deaths of two people in New South Wales.
FV has been forced to stand down more than 50% of its staff in response to the jarring halt to footballing activities wrought by COVID-19, with a “skeleton” competitions team responsible for scenario planning for the game’s eventual return.
“I can’t give you any specific timeframes, that’s the million-dollar question that everyone is running about with now,” Executive Manager of Football Operations Will Hastie told FTBL.
“We get a daily briefing from FFA on the government position federally, FV CEO Peter Filopoulos and Matt Green – our senior executive manager of business services – are connected daily to the state government here as well.
“Our operation is fully of the belief that football will be played again this year and working on how quickly we can get our Victorian players – men, women, girls and boys – back playing football as quickly as possible.
“The competitions team has sent a survey to all clubs in Victoria simply, at the moment, to understand two things. One is their desire to play community football beyond September and into the spring window - October, November, potentially December.
“The second one is their access to facilities to be able to do that. What’s going to be the facility challenge as the traditional winter sports hand their facilities to cricket and the summer sports, which traditionally happens in the month of September for the summer season?
“The feedback that has come back from our clubs is very strongly towards playing and a community approach to working together to solve whatever facility problems or challenges we may have at that point in time.”
According to Hastie, these efforts to get the game Victorian clubs back on the park stretch from NPL football to community, men's to women's and senior to youth football.