Football Victoria early last week placed a full stop next to the 2020 season for senior teams in the metropolitan region.
However the state body clings to the hope that junior competition at both NPL and community club levels can resume in September pending state government approval.
The anticipated end to the 2020 season was first announced in an email to clubs and followed up the next day with an official media release whose main points were:
- Senior metropolitan competitions (NPL and community) will not proceed or resume as fixtured
- Junior NPL and community club competitions are planned to resume in a modified form in September (subject to government restrictions)
- Modified football competitions to be developed with clubs for September onwards in various forms and locations (subject to government restrictions)
- A FV 2020 fee policy, based on cost apportionment principles, is being finalised.
All three local clubs with junior NPL licences – Langwarrin, Mornington and Peninsula Strikers – are likely to participate in whatever may remain of the 2020 season.
However neither Mornington nor Strikers will compete at community junior level this year.
Langy hopes to but if a modified junior season starts up as scheduled it will coincide with the redevelopment of the top pitch at Lawton Reserve.
“It’s going to be a logistical nightmare but we will absolutely make it work,” Langwarrin president Tanya Wallace said.
A major electrical upgrade at Lawton Park was completed last week but in September the top pitch will be ripped up and completely resurfaced with new drainage, new irrigation, levelling of the new pitch, upgrade of coaching boxes, new fencing, new gates at the second entrance off Barrett’s Road and a new high fence behind the goals at the clubroom end of the pitch.
Mornington is in talks with FV and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council about arranging an abbreviated junior season for local community clubs.
The Dallas Brooks Reserve outfit has held talks with Mount Eliza, Mount Martha, Somerville, Rosebud, Rosebud Heart and Westernport.
“It’s early days yet but the signs are promising,” Mornington president Matt Cameron said.
“We’re hoping to put together a six- to eight-week junior competition and we’re still working through the details with Greg (Hurvitz, local FV club ambassador).
“The clubs prefer to stay within the local area rather than travelling to other municipalities.
“We are all working together which is fantastic the way we’ve been able to do that over this period.
“We’ll talk to the council about getting extended times on grounds and if we can run into summer that’s probably what we’ll try and do.”
Mornington is now dealing with the issue of refunding player fees to parents.
“We probably will look at a rollover to next season,” Cameron said.
“If we can arrange some sort of season with the local clubs that will go some way to dealing with the issue but we haven’t had a lot of requests for refunds to be honest, maybe around 10 or so from the 400 kids we’ve got.
“We sent out an email a couple of weeks ago when the season got put off again and quite a few people have said they don’t expect anything back as the club has been working harder than ever having to set up twice only to have things called off each time.”
Strikers also called off the season for its community junior clubs and junior president Matt Harrington believes the club has acted in the best interest of parents.
“We’ve made a difficult decision not to compete in any Football Victoria community competitions this year as we felt it would be too cost-prohibitive for families,” he said.
“We worked very hard at putting the COVID-19 return to training and playing conditions in place for our NPL program but found that providing the same diligence for our 20-plus community teams significantly more challenging.
“After the last restart we reduced our (community) fees by between 25 and 60 per cent depending on the age group then went through the process of recharging all our members and now we’ve decided to provide full refunds.
“We’ve been able to do that because we’ve managed our payments and registrations really carefully.
“A number of parents have offered their fees back as a donation and that has been absolutely fantastic.”
While Strikers will take part in any modified reboot of the junior NPL season they are prepared for the possibility that too may be scrapped by FV.
“Our main objective for our NPL program was to make it as accessible as possible for anyone who tried out with us,” Harrington added.
“We set up a model to charge what it cost us and we committed to that plan for this year.
“Our aim still is to still run the best quality and the best value-for-money NPL program in Victoria but if the NPL season ends up being called off we have the ability to refund unspent monies to our families.”
Meanwhile Frankston Pines has again raised the prospect of turning Monterey Reserve into a local training and playing hub over the next few months.
“We’ve spoken to council about offering our grounds to accommodate clubs who can’t use their own grounds because of cricket,” Pines president Lee Davies said.
This ties in with Pines telling FV of its keenness to again host a Go Sevens tournament which it did during the last off-season.
“We thought if clubs don’t have anywhere to train they could come and train here and they’d be more likely to play in a tournament,” Davies added.
Pines have looked at the possibility of organising their own tournament but Davies isn’t comfortable with the idea.
“I think the main local tournament is the Wallace Cup and I think that has to be respected.
“I don’t like the idea of us having a tournament that takes anything away from that.
“If we host anything at all it will be run by Football Victoria because we would never compete with the Wallace Cup.
“We can still go ahead with the Sevens plan though.”
First published in the Mornington News – 21 July 2020