THE Heathcote District Football Netball League club coach with the most to lose in 2020 has backed the league's decision to cancel the season.
Lockington-Bamawm United coach Kahl Oliver had assembled a squad that made the Cats a hot favourite to win their first HDFNL premiership in six years.
That opportunity has been taken away from Oliver and his players for this year, but he holds no grudge.
"I wasn't shocked and I wasn't disappointed. I really think they (the HDFNL board) have made the right decision,'' Oliver said.
"Yes, they could have waited a little longer, but at the end of the day the outcome was probably going to be the same.
"There's just too many hurdles for everyone to jump over to get a game of footy going."
Read more: HDFNL cancels 2020 season
Read more: The HDFNL board's tough call
The health and safety of players, volunteers and supporters and rigid COVID-19 restrictions forced the league into a corner.
The inability to have crowds at games meant the financial future of clubs would be in doubt if the season went ahead.
Oliver said his players were chomping at the bit to get out and play, but they understood the magnitude of the situation.
"The players were disappointed. We'd set ourselves for a really strong year and they got themselves super fit,'' Oliver said.
"They were really keen to get out there, but it's out of our control. We've just got to do what we've got to do to stay alive.
"I assume every club is in the same boat, if we can't get crowds to games then we can't play."
Oliver said the players were keen to stick together through their footy-free 2020.
"The long weekend in June the boys have organised a golf day as a gathering where we can get together,'' he said.
"We'll have a social function once we're allowed to have bigger groups together.
"We'll try to keep the boys together in that sense, but for the time being we need to sit on our hands a bit."
There remains a slight chance that major leagues Bendigo and Goulburn Valley will make a start in 2020.
With AFL Victoria clearances open until June 30, HDFNL players could be targeted by clubs in rival leagues.
"That was my only question about the decision being made now instead of closer to June 30,'' Oliver said.
"Fingers crossed we don't have players leave. That's out of our control."
Oliver expected to have a similar squad for the 2021 HDFNL season.
"I expect most of the boys to hang around,'' Oliver said.
"We've worked too hard to get this group together. They'll be keen to want to play together next year."
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