The AFL today wrote to all NAB League regions, players and parents to provide an update on the status of the NAB League Boys and Girls competitions in 2020.
The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in Australian Football at all levels remains the priority and the AFL will continue to work with the Victorian State Government and its Chief Health Officer in relation to its talent pathways programs returning to train and play in a safe environment.
Five NAB League Boys regions will commence games as scheduled on Saturday August 22 with the GWV Rebels hosting Geelong Falcons at Mars Stadium followed by the Bendigo Pioneers hosting Murray Bushrangers at QEO in Bendigo on Sunday 23 August. Gippsland Power will play an intra-club game in round one. To maintain flexibility and given the restrictions in place, the AFL will release the remaining NAB League games when it is in a position to do so.
Following the Victorian State Government advice, no community football training or competition can be held in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire LGA during stage three restrictions for six-weeks until Wednesday 19 August. Based on this advice, all six Victorian Metro regions, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets, plus Dandenong Stingrays, will not commence training or matches until it is safe to do so.
Eligibility will be for players 18 years and under who live in regional Victoria other than Mitchell Shire LGA. Regional Players who undertake schooling in restricted areas will be ineligible to play for their regional team under the advice and guidance of the Victorian State Government.
The NAB League Girls Season is scheduled to recommence on Saturday September 5 with three more matches for each team to complete a six-game season.
AFL Head Talent and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said while the current situation relating to COVID-19 continues to impact talent pathway programs in Victoria, the AFL remains committed to having some form of competitive games for all Girls and Boys in a safe environment.
“All levels of the game across the country have been impacted by the health pandemic this year. Throughout this season we have anchored every decision in-line with the advice of the respective government and relevant medical authorities. Our return to play plans and our timings is evidence of that,” Salter said.
“The evolving situation across Victoria has meant we have had to make decisions based on geographical locations of players and clubs to ensure we give as many players the opportunity to play NAB League games this year.
“While we would prefer to provide a standard season of NAB League football for girls and boys across the entire state, this outcome ensures an opportunity for many players to continue their journey in the talent pathway.
The AFL will continue to support all 2020 NAB League players for the remainder of the year and are committed to ensuring opportunities will exist in 2021 for players who have been impacted by the disruptions to the 2020 NAB League season.
“We maintain our commitment to all players that we will continue explore arrangements including return-to-training and competition in consultation with the Victorian State Government for players located in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.”
With the assistance of NAB, the AFL have developed a training program for all players during this period to focus on skill development and fitness. This program will prepare all players for the recommencement of training and competition that may arise.
“We acknowledge it has been a challenging year for all NAB League players, parents, coaches, volunteers and officials and we remain united as a league to get through this together,” Salter said.
"We remain committed to providing the right platform for the players and clubs and give NAB League Girls and Boys the opportunity to showcase their talent.”
The AFL will continue to review all arrangements in consultation with clubs, the Victorian State Government and respective Health Officers and strict protocols will be in place to protect players, officials, staff and the wider public when training and matches commence.