The SSFA Executive Committee (EC) and Clubs share the frustration of players that are impacted by the weather and disappointment that is inevitable when games are washed out.
Sharing some of the challenges that are faced may lead to a better understanding of the process.
Volume of Impact
SSFA have over 17,500 players in the Association, participating in more than 700 matches each weekend, and are the largest football Association of any code within Australia. The logistics of running such a competition is extremely complicated. On a Saturday alone we have games involving nearly 11,000 players, across more than 1,000 teams, in the Shire.
The Council allocates the grounds to Football (Soccer) for only 22 weeks a year and is unable and unwilling to provide any more. After this date for two weeks they remove posts / set up cricket pitches and then Cricket and other sports get the grounds for 22 weeks. Then they do not allocate two weeks before or after Christmas and use another 2 weeks to install posts and fill cricket pitches before we get the winter allocation back. 52 weeks in the year and this is the full 52 split for which we get 22.
Then we use 18 rounds for normal competition and 3 rounds finals and 1 spare week in the finals for a wash out. That’s our 22 and as such no spare week let alone weeks to pick up any washed out rounds. The rule book declares that the spare weekend must be kept only for a wash out of a finals game.
The only day we have to play more Football is the Monday of the June long weekend and, if ratified by the General Meeting of Club delegates, we do play that day when the weather permits – but not without acrimony from some participants.
“The Association calls the fields out”. This practice ceased many years ago. Each club is now required to contact the designated Association wet weather person by 6:30am on doubtful weekend days – the Club is responsible to make the ‘call’. If insufficient fields are deemed playable by the Clubs – that is there is not enough spare capacity to move games on that day after fields are called out – the days play will be ‘called off’.
A decision is made day-by day on the weekend and is wholly and solely based upon safety of players – not the need to protect fields, not with a preference to any age group or competition, or any other scurrilous reason.
The SSFA fully supports the club calls on each such a day.
Alternates often suggested
Play Saturday catch up on Sunday….At best the Sunday allocation allows for 30 games to be replayed from Saturday as the rest of the weekend allocation is full with almost another 7,000 players involved in Sunday competitions. If we had 150 games (less than one third of our Saturday games) to catch up one from (1) Saturday it would take five (5) weeks.
Play during the week under lights … we have ten (10) fields with game accredited lights and they can only play two (2) matches per night. So if we stopped those clubs training for a week and run night games on every weeknight it would take just under eight (8) weeks to catch up. Night games require not only significant investment in lighting but also council DA approval with consent of neighbours and that is why they are currently restricted to Lakewood, The Ridge, Gymea, Miranda and Solander where impact on neighbours is limited. Not to mention the challenge of volunteers at night for canteen / ground control and ground marking etc.
Extend the season……see previous comment re limit of 22 weeks of allocation maximum from Council
SSFA Rule 18.D Entire Rounds not Played states that
(i) If a complete round of Saturday and Sunday matches for Round 1 to Round 15 of the competitions is not played for any reason, including weather or ground conditions, the Rounds affected will be redrawn to be played as soon as possible to ensure all teams in competitions with eight (8) teams or less play every other team in the division, including the Bye Round, at least once during the season. This will also ensure teams in competitions with eight (8) teams or less do not play some teams up to three times and others only once or possibly not at all.
(ii) If it is necessary to abandon completely any unplayed competition rounds prior to the finals, the E.C. will abandon Round 18 and, if necessary, additional rounds regressively from Round 17 to provide a finals series as covered by Rule 9. A. (c)
The EC and the club officials who make the call to the SSFA deeming the fields playable or otherwise are only in the game to see more football not less. We are constrained and do our best within that for the greater vision of building sporting communities. All this is done by volunteers who love the game. If we had an opportunity to play more football and the potential to catch up lost games – we would!
SSFA Executive Committee