BENDIGO Football-Netball League clubs are sharing concerns about the impact on top-age junior players if season 2020 is wiped out by the coronavirus crisis.
The BFNL held its latest fortnightly presidents meeting on Wednesday night, with the topics including discussions around the merits of raising the junior football (under-18s) and netball (under-17s) age limits by a year next season if there was no play in 2020.
"There's definitely a shared concern that we could have players missing out on a large portion or even a whole year of under-age football and netball this year," BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said on Thursday.
"There was a discussion around the football going to under-19s next year, but then is that creating other issues in terms of do we then have three years of players coming up from the under-16s and having a mass influx of players that we can't cater for?
"So while there is some thought that it does have merit, it's going to require further discussion and clubs are now going to go back and have a think about it, but it's still too early to make any decisions given the flow-on effects.
So while there is some thought that it does have merit, it's going to require further discussion and clubs are now going to go back and have a think about it, but it's still too early to make any sort of decisions given the flow-on effectsCameron Tomlins - BFNL manager
"One of the presidents also made a great point last night in regards to if we're looking to get the OK to go a bit deeper into the season this year (potentially October) that we have to be cautious we could be extending our season into school exam time for under-18 players, so these are the types of things that come up as people start thinking deeper about different scenarios."
The BFNL's under-18 football competition remained as is this year following an AFL Central Victoria "Third Tier Competition" review completed last year.
As part of the review Bendigo league clubs were asked about the merits of the under-18 competition becoming under-19s.
The response was five clubs believe under-18s is correct and under-19s would be of no benefit; two clubs believe under-19s to be the ideal age group; while three clubs would consider a change to under-19s if it could be proved to be beneficial.
Meanwhile, Tomlins says the league and its clubs are holding out for the second week of May when AFL Victoria has indicated a "robust update" on season 2020 for community competitions, hopefully, allowing leagues to begin dealing with facts on how a season could play out, rather than "what ifs".
"We can't make any calls on anything until we get all the information in front of us, so for the meantime we're in a bit of a holding pattern for the next fortnight and hope we get some clarification in that second week of May," Tomlins said.
"What's going to be really important come May 11 is the government announcement regarding mass gathering restrictions moving forward and what that means for not only the community in general, but community sport and whether we can have crowds at games and what numbers it could be."
Had the season started on time on Good Friday, this weekend would have been the BFNL's inter-league clash with arch-rival Ballarat.
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