COOLAMON president Bryan Buchanan has applauded AFL Riverina's move to extend the season deadline by two weeks after clubs urged them to give hopes of playing finals every possible chance.
AFL Riverina's competitions have been given a two week stay of execution after their board released a joint statement with Hume League on Wednesday confirming senior seasons will be completed no later than October 3.
No premierships will be awarded in AFL Riverina's Farrer and Riverina Leagues if finals can't be completed by this date, while the Hume League will continue consulting with clubs on this issue.
AFL Riverina and Hume League will advise clubs of their respective finals plans on Wednesday. The Wagga and District Junior and South West Junior competitions will have club consultation meetings in coming days, with their plans yet to be finalised.
The decision to extend the season into October, after AFL Riverina initially set the deadline for September 19, will be of great relief to clubs competing in football and netball finals.
The four teams competing in the Riverina League football finals sent a joint letter to the AFL Riverina board last week, urging the deadline be extended.
It is closer in line to other codes, who have committed to playing well into October.
"It's common sense and just gives us a bit more of a chance to play," Buchanan said.
"We still have to wait on restrictions but it shows some flexibility, which is good.
"It gives us some wiggle room in case something happens. If the season doesn't go ahead, the decision not to award premierships makes sense, I believe.
"It's a good reward for volunteers as well. Volunteer burnout isn't something the clubs are worried about, they've worked hard all year and would like to see a season come to a conclusion if at all possible."
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The statement said leagues will look to find a balance between restarting as soon as possible, but also ensuring player safety is adhered to.
"Both leagues have taken club feedback on board in trying to complete a season, but also understand the player risk involved where some participating clubs in the Hume and AFL Riverina competitions won't have played matches since August 7," the AFL Riverina and Hume League statement said.
"The AFL Riverina and Hume FNL competitions will adopt their own finals structures but have unanimously agreed on the following principles:
- AFL Riverina and Hume FNL will provide an adequate return to play training period before commencing finals matches (minimum one week);
- October 3rd was deemed as the final date for both competitions considering player welfare, volunteer burnout and summer sport preparation time;
-Ongoing uncertainty around community sport restrictions including both the Victorian and ACT border impacts."
Buchanan said the minimum of one week training before any restart was basic duty of care for players who haven't played for several weeks.
"It makes sense we should have a week beforehand for training to get the guys going again. Our club hasn't played since August 7," he said.
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