Firstly, the Sutherland Shire Football Association (SSFA) and its clubs appreciate everybody’s support and patience during this unprecedented time. By staying home, you have helped reduce the spread of the virus and have protected each other. As a result, there is certainly more optimism for a return to football and plans are well and truly in place. Over the past few months, the SSFA and Clubs have been busy working on plans to ‘Return to Football’.
Below is a high level overview of considerations to-date:
• Preliminary planning has the season commencing as early as possible in July if not beforehand (after the NSW Public Health Order has ceased to operate or been repealed).
• We are working with summer sport (particularly Cricket) and Council to ensure we can deliver as many matches as we possibly can under the circumstances.
• There will, as per standing practice, be no break for school holidays.
• There will be no capacity to play ‘catch-up’ games due to washouts if full rounds are washed out.
• There will be strict Government Guidelines we must adhere to, which will include the number of people that can gather at one time. This may impact our ability to deliver special events, such as Gala Days, Finals Series, and Award Functions.
• As the situation is dynamic, all the above is subject to change.
Our simple objective is to play as many games of football as we possibly can. There is no doubt the 2020 season will be different to any other season we have experienced as we will be bound by Government restrictions, but we firmly believe that getting back onto the pitch in 2020 will have significantly greater benefits to our community than electing to cancel the season altogether.
In preparing for a return to football, the SSFA has worked closely with other FNSW Associations to draft a set of guidelines for football. The reality is that we will need to modify the way we schedule, prepare, play, train, referee, coach, socialise and celebrate to ensure we comply and keep our vast football family safe and healthy. It is the intention that these guidelines will align with National Principles for the resumption of community sport, which were released last week. The Guidelines, which will be specific to football, will be provided to all members once the Federal Government, the State Government and both FFA and FNSW have provided their input (and relevant sign off) and they are ready for circulation.
We cannot stress how important it is to understand and respect these guidelines if we want to stay on the park in 2020.
Whilst we prepare to launch our season, please be reminded that all Football activity currently remains suspended at least until 31 May 2020 (as previously stated by FFA). We encourage players to stay active during this time, however it is best to do so in isolation.
National Cabinet will meet on Friday and it is possible restrictions may ease however, as it stands, we must continue to remain disciplined. The SSFA is fully aligned with the direction provided from our Federal and State Government, as well as our parent bodies, Football Federation Australia and Football NSW, with community health and wellbeing the priority during this time. As such, we encourage the football community to download the new COVIDSafe app to further help slow the spread of the virus. The app will help state and territory health officials to quickly alert people who may be at risk of having contact with the virus.
The SSFA is committed to keeping participants as informed as we can during these unpredictable times and will provide a further update as relevant information comes to hand. The SSFA greatly appreciates your ongoing patience and wishes you and your families the very best of health.
Sutherland Shire Football Association