THE Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara 2020 football season may not start until late June – if at all – as the league grinds to a halt amid the world-wide COVID-19 health crisis.
With all community football league competitions postponed until at least May 31, clubs and fans have been forced to play the waiting game on their 2020 footy fix.
KNTFL president Peter McLellan said the league was in “total agreement” with the directive from SANFL community football to postpone the season and while it is disappointing to be stuck on the sidelines, it is a necessary action.
“We have got to do what the government says, it is not very hard,” McLellan said.
“We cannot be congregating and footy clubs are just a part of all that.”
While the entire 2020 season is shrouded in doubt, McLellan said there have been measures put in place for a shortened fixture in the case football is able to resume.
“We have contingency plans – if we can get going in July we can play a round of matches where everyone plays each other once,” he said.
“But whether we get going in July is yet to be seen.”
While football is currently only suspended until May 31, McLellan believes it is an optimistic prediction.
May 31 falls on a Sunday, with the June long weekend the following week, which pushes a realistic start date back to at least June 13, which is the proposed opening round in the Western Border Football League’s revised draw.
However, McLellan expects the wait to be even longer.
“They (SANFL) have said May 31, but I cannot see us going by then,” he said.
“If we could get going by late June to July, we could probably get a round for everyone to play each other once and then finals.
“That would be our best-case scenario.”
But if the time comes and the situation has not improved, a difficult decision will need to be made.
“If we get to July-August and nothing has happened, it will just be a matter of starting again next year,” McLellan said.
“You cannot go too late otherwise you’ll be going into the cricket.
“We will not be playing in December or November like the AFL are thinking about doing.”
It is a financially straining time for any organisation, but McLellan is confident all 11 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara clubs will survive the tests before them.
“I think our clubs will come out of it financially okay – not hunky dory, but we will not lose any clubs,” he said.
“The teas on Thursdays and Saturdays were big fund-raisers, but we also have player payments which we do not have to do.
“A lot of the smaller clubs are sort of farmer based, where they have their cattle run and sheep club – they will still get that money.
“I do not know what Glenelg and Sturt and all of them are going to do and how they are going to raise money,” Peter McLellan said.
“I think them and the AFL are in more trouble than my clubs.”
While clubs may be able to scrape through financially, the social aspect of the game will hit the hardest.
“People love their sport and they are going to miss their Saturdays going out to the football and netball,” McLellan said.
“That is the sad thing – people love going out there and it is good for the economy.”
At the end of the day when football can be expected to return is out of the league’s hands, but everyone has a part to play in the coming months.
“Everyone needs to be kind and wash their hands,” McLellan said.
“Chris Scott (Geelong football coach) said it pretty well – it is time to just shut up and do what the bosses say.”