FC Eaglehawk has withdrawn from the 2020 Bendigo Amateur Soccer League junior competition.
In a statement released to junior parents, FC Eaglehawk president Ben Pengelly said the health and wellbeing of the club's players, coaches, volunteers and supporters was at the forefront of the decision.
"This decision has not been taken lightly, but as a committee and community we have recognised that we cannot meet the standards that are required to maintain player and community safety as determined by the Football Victoria 'Return to Competition' guidelines,'' the statement said.
"Our club is committed to providing not only your children, but our whole community with a 'soccer experience' and we do not believe that we can achieve this in 2020.
"To us soccer is more than just a couple of kids kicking the ball, it is a whole community production, one where grandparents come to watch, you have a coffee with the other parents, you laugh and cheer as the mighty Burra kicks another goal and you celebrate as a team when we play a good game.
"Unfortunately we cannot provide that in a safe and compliant manner to all our participants and volunteers this year, and as such we are withdrawing from the 2020 BASL season."
Eaglehawk had 16 teams participate in the BASL junior competition last year and would have had at least that amount of teams this year had the COVID-19 pandemic not struck.
Pengelly said about half of the club's junior players had already pulled out of the 2020 season leaving the Hawks with eight teams to play in the revised fixtures which are due to kick-off on the weekend of July 11-12.
"Under the 'Return to Play' requirement there are no grey areas - they are mandatory - which puts a huge amount of pressure on all clubs,'' Pengelly said.
"Ramifications of failure to comply come back to clubs.
"The feedback from parents has been fantastic. They've seen the problems associated for the club and they understand the decision made."
The format for the BASL senior season is still to be decided.
Shepparton SC is officially out of all senior divisions, while Shepparton South, Shepparton United and Tatura - are still weighing up if they'll participate.
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