THE Bendigo Football-Netball League's 2021 season is officially over, with there to be no recording of "minor premiers" or award winners in the history books.
On an inevitable, but saddening day for competitions in the AFLCV region, the BFNL was among a host of leagues on Friday that officially called off their 2021 season, with only training currently permitted as part of the easing of regional Victorian restrictions.
"Recent announcements regarding the easing of current regional Victorian lockdown restrictions, including outlining an immediate return to community sport for minimum training purposes only, prevents all leagues and associations from scheduling any competitive finals matches until after the current restrictions settings are proposed to ease again at 11.59pm on September 23," the BFNL said in a statement announcing its decision.
"Despite the current finals roadmap which was implemented several weeks ago, these local government updates offer further uncertainty regarding an actual timeframe for a return to competitive community sport."
Last month's BFNL finals roadmap set a season deadline for the weekend of September 24-26 for potentially a last-resort 1st v 2nd grand final day at the QEO.
"A key consideration in finalising the decision to end the 2021 season included concerns for the welfare of all players and a duty of care to ensure that any return to competition plan was allowed adequate preparation time for players, teams, clubs and volunteers," the statement said.
A key consideration in finalising the decision to end the 2021 season included concerns for the welfare of all players and a duty of care to ensure that any return to competition plan was allowed adequate preparation time for players, teams, clubs and volunteers
"BFNL teams have now played a maximum of one match (zero in some cases) since July 10. This is compounded by the recent inability for players to train in a competitive group capacity since August 20 and the continued different restrictions on our metropolitan members."
The cancellation of the 2021 season follows the BFNL playing just 12 of its 18 home and away rounds.
What is bound to be a contentious decision is the move not to award teams that finished on top of the ladder with minor premierships or present individual awards.
"As a result of the cancellation of a significantly compromised home and away season the board wish to advise that premierships (including minor premierships) will not be recognised or awarded for season 2021. The BFNL will also not award any individual awards such as league best and fairest winners as several competitions have become far too compromised," the league said.
Teams that have been denied "minor premiership" recognition in the football are Strathfieldsaye (seniors and reserves) and Gisborne (under-18s) and in the netball are Kangaroo Flat (A grade, A reserve), Sandhurst (B grade, B reserve) and Gisborne (17-under).
"This is certainly not the desired outcome the BFNL was striving for with ongoing decisions made to afford the league the best possible chance of a return to competition this season," the league said.
This is certainly not the desired outcome the BFNL was striving for with ongoing decisions made to afford the league the best possible chance of a return to competition this season
"The BFNL understand the continued uncertainty has become one of the most challenging facets of season 2021 and while disappointing, trust this decision will provide appropriate certainty and closure."
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Bendigo Junior Football League season was also among the AFL Central Victoria competitions that were abandoned on Friday.
With no finals series being played, the league has made the decision to recognise teams that finished on top of the ladder as minor premiers:
Under-12A - Strathfieldsaye.
Under-12B - Huntly.
Under-12C - Marong.
Under-12D - Heathcote.
Under-14 Girls - Sandhurst.
Under-14 Seniors Blue - Sandhurst.
Under-14 Seniors Gold - Maiden Gully YCW.
Under-14 Reserves 1 - Sandhurst.
Under-14 Reserves 2 - Sandhurst.
Under-16 Girls - White Hills & Sandhurst.
Under-16 Seniors Blue - Golden Square.
Under-16 Seniors Gold - Maryborough.
Under-16 Reserves - South Bendigo & Golden Square.
Under-18 Girls - Strathfieldsaye.
When restrictions allow the BJFL will hold a function to award the teams with their minor premierships.
"A massive thanks to the clubs, players, coaches, officials and volunteers for their patience and understanding in a difficult season," the BJFL's Nathan Williams said.
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