AFL Central Victoria football-netball leagues can cross this weekend off their finals planning with community sport to remain on pause.
However, there is a glimmer of hope that there could be a return to sport on the weekend of September 11-12, with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews indicating on Wednesday the regional Victorian lockdown should end at some stage next week.
"Exactly when, we'll confirm as soon as we can. There will be an opening up, but there will be significant, substantial restrictions on what can occur," Andrews said during a press conference in which he also announced lockdown in Melbourne would be extended to September 23.
All the region's leagues - Bendigo, Heathcote District, Loddon Valley and North Central - have developed a pathway for their finals series, none of which have started yet due to this latest lockdown that for regional Victoria started on Saturday, August 21.
For the Bendigo Football-Netball League, no competition this weekend doesn't affect its roadmap to still complete a three-week, top-six finals series.
The BFNL had only intended to play under-18 football and 17-under netball week one finals this weekend had sport been permitted to resume and hoped to be able to give its open age teams a week of training under their belt before getting under way on September 11-12.
If the easing of restrictions next week would allow for community sport to resume on September 11-12 - albeit without Melbourne participants and likely no crowds - the path remains possible for the BFNL to reach its goal of the six finalists in all grades still competing culminating in a grand final on the weekend of September 24-26.
"I think today's announcement lacks a lot of clarity for regional Victoria," BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said.
"The one thing we know for certain is there is no community sport again this weekend, which we had plans already in our roadmap as to how we would deal with that. It's obviously a fluid situation at the moment with a lot changing very quickly from day to day and it's really hard to plan too far ahead.
"We're the same as everyone else across the state at the moment in that we just need to tune into the announcements on a daily basis, try to understand what the facts are and apply it to our situation."
The one thing we know for certain is there is no community sport again this weekend, which we had plans already in our roadmap as to how we would deal with that. It's obviously a fluid situation at the moment with a lot changing very quickly from day to day and it's really hard to plan too far aheadCameron Tomlins - BFNL manager
While the BFNL has its plan of finals scenarios mapped out, Tomlins said the league was also conscious of the impact on the inability for teams to train as a group through not just this latest lockdown, but for much of the second half of a season in which just 11 of the league's 18 home and away rounds were played.
The BFNL has played only once since July 10 when the season resumed for round 16 on August 14.
"It's obviously really hard to plan until we have absolute clarity around what our return dates are, but as a league we are really conscious our footballers and netballers have barely been in a competitive match sense for the best part of seven to nine weeks now," Tomlins said.
"And there has been no competitive training now for a couple of weeks, so we're trying to monitor the situation until we get some news... whether that's a return to training or return to competition plan, that's all the sort of information we need before we can pull the trigger on our return."
Following Wednesday's confirmation that community sport won't be returning this weekend, the Heathcote District Football-Netball League will hold a meeting with its clubs on Thursday night to discuss the merits of still trying to proceed with the season or abandoning it.
The HDFNL was to have played its first and second semi-finals this weekend, but with those to be called off it means the fourth-placed teams - White Hills in the senior football and Mount Pleasant in the A Grade netball - are eliminated.
It also means that should the HDFNL choose to forge ahead with its grand final on September 18, the top teams have now qualified - Lockington-Bamawm United in the seniors and Elmore in the A Grade netball, both of which are undefeated.
The LVFNL board last week presented its clubs with a range of top-four finals options based on possible starting dates for a community sport resumption.
With this weekend scrapped, the option for the earliest return date of September 11 is for 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd semi-finals and a grand final to be played on September 18 between the two winners.
As part of its finals upheaval, the LVFNL has already had to cull the fifth-placed teams - Bears Lagoon-Serpentine in the senior football and Bridgewater in the A Grade netball.
"We're now awaiting further government direction on mapping the way forward for community sport. Once we get that information we'll then look at how it applies to our competition," LVFNL executive officer Laura Naughton said.
The NCFL last week announced its finals scenarios that factor in a return date as late as September 18-19 that would feature 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd semi-finals followed by a grand final the next week across the September 24-26 weekend.
The league also hasn't closed the door on the prospect of extending its grand final date into October in the hope of getting an on-field completion to the season.
Meanwhile, the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League will tonight hold a meeting with its clubs to discuss its way forward as it too continues to navigate through the frustrating stop-start season plagued by uncertainty.
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