HOPES have been dashed for a return of the NAB League, with the AFL calling off the 2020 boys and girls under-18 seasons.
The Victorian government's declaration of a state of disaster this week with restrictions increased to stage four have proved the final hit for the country's leading under-18 system with the decision confirmed on Tuesday.
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It had been hoped that the country conference of the under-18 boys competition would run as planned from August 22, but government advice for no community football training or competitions until Sunday, September 13 has led to the AFL's call to cancel the season.
The AFL hopes to run some representative games between the Vic Metro and Vic Country squads later in the year, potentially in October, if restrictions are eased through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All levels of the game across Victoria have been impacted by the health pandemic this year and under the new restrictions, any form of training and competition for both metropolitan and regional players and clubs is prohibited," the AFL's head of talent and state league competitions Tristan Salter said.
"We acknowledge this is extremely disappointing news for the players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans of the NAB League competition and we commend every NAB League region that has worked tirelessly to find a way through.
"Every step of the way, our focus has been on the safety of players, coaches, volunteers, officials and our communities. Following the updated restrictions announced by Victorian state government, it provided too great a challenge for all involved."
The AFL is also committed to allowing more players who are in their draft year this year to return to the competition next year if they are not drafted in 2020 in what will be a revised talent model.
The NAB League girls clubs completed up to three matches in March before the season was put on hold, but no premiership will be awarded for 2020. A team of the year will soon be announced while there will also be support for players in the lead up to the NAB AFLW Draft in October.