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COVID-19 puts boot into AFLHCC season

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With the NSW Government extending its state-wide lockdown until 10 September, AFL Hunter Central Coast (AFLHCC) has abandoned community football throughout the region in 2021.

It comes a week after the organisation was forced to terminate likewise formats on the Central Coast, due to the Greater Sydney “stay at home” orders.

The latest outcome also extends to AFLHCC’s NAB Auskick programs.

“Following the uncertainty surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic across the Hunter, the board made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 season,” said community football and competition manager Matt Harris, who dealt with a similar situation at the helm of Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League last year.  

“In reaching this ruling it became increasingly apparent that, with the continued escalating health crisis and the impact of ongoing lockdown timeframes, to restart and finish 2021 are now not viable.

“We appreciate our announcement will disappoint our many players, coaches, umpires and volunteers who invest so much time, effort and energy in the season.

“AFLHCC shares in the immense disappointment to be unable to complete the competition in its entirety.

“However, [today’s] outcome is the unfortunate reality of the challenges the pandemic continues to throw at the community.

“Our priority remains supporting our clubs, players, officials and volunteers through these challenging circumstances and focusing on preparing for playing footy again in 2022.”

Harris said AFLHCC would look at other options moving forward.

“If the opportunity arises to gather our football community in an informal manner prior to the traditional end of the winter season we will do so, as well as provide further opportunities for participants and clubs to join our spring alternate format comps of AFL 9s and Junior AFLX if they are able to proceed in October,” he added.

“AFL NSW/ACT and the HCC board is committed to working closely with our network to minimise the financial impact of the cancellation on our clubs and participants where possible.

“The details of our support will be communicated to clubs in the coming days.

“We will also seek opportunities to engage clubs and participants in the months ahead and prioritise season 2022 planning and player retention incentives to ensure a strong return to footy as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We’re keen to return to a sense of normality in the coming months for community sport and working together to get back to footy when we can safely.”

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