The summer of 2020-21 will be one that sporting clubs across central Victoria remember for all sorts of reasons.
When local football and netball competitions were cancelled for 2020 it was no certainty that summer sports would be go ahead either.
As the regions emerged from lockdown, there was uncertainty about the availability of facilities, the willingness of players and volunteers to commit, the financial position of sponsors, plus the unknown influence of COVID-19.
When plans to get teams back into training, and then into competition, were discussed the restrictions around social distancing, cleaning and contact tracing seemed overwhelming.
The first steps were tentative. It quickly became obvious that flexibility and adaptability were going to be crucial.
These are not always the first words associated with community sport, but the various codes have managed to adapt.
Volunteers and competitors have done their best to abide by the rules put in place for 'return to play', whether that is cleaning equipment and facilities, or recording the names of those attending sporting fields.
Even the introduction of a brief lockdown in February failed to derail sporting competition. By then it was just another issue for clubs and associations to factor in.
All of those players, administrators and supporters get their reward this weekend.
It is not overstating things to suggest that getting to grand finals was no certainty back in September or October 2020.
Let's not forget that many community and public events have not been so lucky, with some cancelled two years' running.
But to have teams taking to the field with supporters able to watch in large numbers is nothing short of a triumph.
It is also an opportunity to reflect, to smell the roses and look back at a uniquely strange period in community life.
It can only be hoped that the winter sports are just as fortunate.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
- Bookmark bendigoadvertiser.com.au
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter @BgoAddy
- Follow us on Instagram @bendigoadvertiser
- Follow us on Google News