Loddon Valley Football Netball League clubs are not willing to give up on their 2020 season just yet.
The LVFNL board and clubs met on Monday night where it was decided the league wouldn't follow the lead of the neighbouring HDFNL and cancel its 2020 season because of COVID-19 restrictions.
"Whilst we await further advice from relevant government and governing bodies it has been agreed no decision regarding the 2020 LVFNL season will be made prior to Tuesday, June 2, 2020,'' LVFNL chairman Simon Tuohey said in a statement.
Bears-Lagoon Serpentine coach Greg Gadsden and Bridgewater co-coach Jayden Donaldson welcomed the league's move.
"I think it's a smart decision,'' Gadsden said.
"I was very surprised Heathcote jumped the gun and went early. We just don't know what's going to happen.
"I can't see why the government is allowing us to have restrictions on sport now if they have no intention to let us play.
"If the government announces on June 22 that contact sport is allowed to go back, and that gatherings of 100 people are allowed outside, then we're not far from getting back to gatherings of 500 people and we could have crowds at the footy.
"It may not happen, but I'm hopeful it might."
Donaldson admitted the uncertainty of whether the season would get underway was causing players, coaches, volunteers and supporters some anxiety, but he backed the LVFNL decision to wait for more government advice.
"Let's not be too quick to put the season in the "too hard basket" without giving the government a chance to provide a pathway back to footy,'' Donaldson said.
"I understand, and agree, that a season without crowds is just not viable, but the crowd restrictions and government guidelines are changing on a fortnightly basis and I think we have a couple of weeks up our sleeve before what I would consider to be D-day for our league.
"I think the potential benefits of waiting and seeing what the government says, and where we stand in a fortnight's time, far outweighs the benefits of pulling the pin right now.
"With some potential government funding in the pipeline for leagues, and just a glimmer of hope to get back and play, I think we owe it to our players and supporters to hang in there for another couple of weeks."
Gadsden and Donaldson said the playing groups of both clubs were itching to return to action - even in a modified form.
"As a league and football body we have to be mindful of the players,'' Gadsden said.
"The majority of them are keen to play. If they can see an opportunity to get half a season in... then they'll take the opportunity anyway they can."
"There's a few of our players leaning towards "let's call the season", but the overall majority is keen to get a season going,'' Donaldson added.
"If the season doesn't get underway then we've even had discussions about having some sort of round robin competition through September just to get some footy back in the community again."
The Bears and Mean Machine have taken different approaches with training during the pandemic.
The Bears have started small group training using the AFL Victoria guidelines, while the Mean Machine are waiting until a concrete decision is made on the future of the season.
"For now, the boys are doing their own thing and they're understanding of the situation,'' Donaldson said.
"In an ideal world we'd love to get four weeks of full training before the season started.
"It will all depend on the restrictions that are put in place."
If the LVFNL season does get the green light, Gadsden said the Bears had room in their player points and salary cap to target recruits.
"We have room to move if we want to,'' Gadsden said.
"I know there's conjecture about Heathcote league players going elsewhere providing other competitions get up and going.
"If there's players that want to play somewhere... we'll look at it at the time."
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