On behalf of the AFL Outer East Commission and staff, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank our community and in particular our club volunteers for the work you have done through another challenging season, with the ever-present threat of Covid providing a significant challenge to you all. Our committees, coaches and volunteers have done a magnificent job leading their clubs, teams, players, and members during this time. We are grateful for everything that our community has done to navigate this period.
There will be much discussion across the region around decisions made, today and for the rest of the year. Our priority is to provide as many games of football and netball as we can for the remainder of the season, given we have missed so much over the past two years. We will continue to consult and be guided by our clubs, collectively and collaboratively, on how we finish the 2021 season.
We have developed a set of key measurables that will guide us through the remainder of the season. These are:
The feedback from our clubs was clear; that the welfare, mental health and well-being of players and volunteers was the highest priority in returning. That will be forefront in our thinking, with a priority placed on the well-being and safety of players and financial viability of clubs.
The decision to return senior football and netball next week was made with the best interest of clubs and participants in mind. Returning this week, we felt would have put significant pressure and strain on our clubs and volunteers. We also want our members, supporters, and parents to be able to attend our games. Pushing the season back a week hopefully will see us be able to return to settings that allow this to occur. We remain committed to finishing our Junior, women’s, and veterans’ competitions in its full capacity.
In such a disrupted season, we will not achieve a perfect outcome for all. Instead, what we are aiming for is ensuring players can play as much as possible, minimise the strain on volunteers and utilise the rest of the year to springboard into 2022. Every decision we make will affect clubs positively or negatively under these conditions. The commission and my staff are charged with the task of ensuring we make decisions that benefits the greater good, which we will continue to do. Some decisions may affect your club, your team or you personally, however with nearly 400 teams and 9000 participants, our priority will remain on participation, club sustainability and minimising burden on volunteers.
The decision to shorten the Senior finals was done with club sustainability in mind and to allow clubs the best opportunity to sustainably navigate the remainder of the season.
Wins and losses at no point will be considered in league decision making. Whilst we are mindful of the importance of this for clubs in premiership contention, our decision making will not consider this, as it would be detrimental to the greater good of the whole competition.
Over the next week AFL Outer East will provide a contingency for any further disruption from covid. Another lockdown is outside of what any of us can control. Instead, I encourage the entire AFL Outer East community to focus on making the remainder of the 2021 season an enjoyable and positive experience for all of our participants, members, and supporters.
The AFL Outer East Commission and staff appreciate how challenging this period is for everyone in our community. We hope that everyone in our community is well and supported at this time and we are committed to working with our clubs, volunteers, and participants in ensuring a terrific finish to season 2021 over the next couple of months.
Region General Manager
AFL Outer East