FIRST-year Lockhart coach Mitch Carroll hopes the Hume League rethinks its decision to scrap the 2020 premiership, or at least wait to see what neighbouring competitions do.
Carroll is in his first season as coach of Lockhart after a decorated playing and coaching career, predominantly at Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong and Coleambally.
Carroll had been looking forward to the Hume League season before coronavirus struck, but now fears for the future of the Demons' playing list after the decision was made to abandon the 2020 premiership.
Osborne coach Joel Mackie revealed this week he fears he may lose half his team to neighbouring leagues this year, because of Hume League's decision.
Carroll agrees and urged Hume League officials to reassess the situation.
"It's been a bit interesting. Bob (Mathews) has been relaying things to me from Hume League meetings. They said nothing was decided and then 24 hours later they said the Hume League was done and dusted for 2020," Carroll said.
"We've got a meeting next week about decisions that could be made, or what we could do, but I don't know. It depends, I think, on what other leagues do and if it's going to hurt the Hume League or not, depending on what they do with clearances and contracts.
"A lot of leagues would have players contracted for 2021 but does that still give blokes in 2020 an opportunity to go and play six or eight games for Marrar or Turvey Park or something if the Farrer and Riverina get going, or an O&M club?
"We can't control it all because we've got no pull."
Carroll wishes the Hume League could make a decision in line with neighbouring competitions.
"Because Hume League has pulled the pin first, it can hurt them more," he said.
"A decision should probably be made as a whole AFL Southern NSW. That would be more fair I think. I don't know if they do or not but maybe the leagues should talk together.
"It was definitely a premature call, when at the start of next month a lot of things are opening back up."
Carroll fully expects some of his Lockhart players to request playing elsewhere in 2020 should neighbouring competitions go ahead.
He hopes some guidelines are put in place to protect Hume League clubs for 2021.
"If that happens, I suppose you've just got to have very fine print contracts written up, saying you can go to The Rock for the remainder of 2020, but when 2021 comes they come back," Carroll said.
"I think there needs to be an agreement between both clubs as well.
"There's obviously been coaches from other leagues ringing to get player interest. Your league's not playing, do you want to come and play here if we get going. That's a big thing as well, it's hard for a Hume League coach to be a step ahead when you've got nothing to bounce back at players.
"I can see what Joel Mackie's saying, we're going to be left behind by being the first comp out, and not having any sort of pull to have players to come to us."
Carroll fears without clauses written into contacts, or intervention from the AFL, players may not come back to Hume League clubs.
"Even some locals, who it's your true-blue home club, they go and play somewhere and find it's a little bit different vibe, I really enjoyed that, or I didn't have the pressure from my uncles and aunties or whatever," he said.
"It's a bit more relaxing, and if they're living in Wagga they might enjoy not travelling to Osborne or Lockhart or whatever."
Carroll would like to see some sort of senior football held in the Hume League in 2020, and believes a junior competition is imperative.
"They need to have some sort of underage footy, that's the biggest thing," he said.
"As an Aussie Rules community, if kids go and play those six or seven games of league, or soccer or whatever, and really enjoy it then that's something we might lose.
"Smaller clubs like Lockhart and Coly will lose their younger players when they're already struggling for numbers as it is.
"They definitely need to get a junior comp going, but seniors is just as important too I suppose for club's futures to keep the players that they've already got for 2020, and to retain them for following years."