AFL Victoria has cleared clubs to begin pre-season football training after releasing its updated return to train and play protocols last week.
In consultation with the Victorian State Government and Sport and Recreation Victoria, the protocols will ensure all participants are well prepared and educated on the return to training and games in a safe environment.
AFL Victoria has advised clubs and leagues that juniors (people aged 18 and under) can resume contact and non-contact training and games, which must be conducted outdoors.
No more than the minimum number of participants required to conduct the training or game can participate in the activity, and at this stage the use of indoor facilities, other than change rooms and toilets, is not permitted.
For seniors, participants over 19 can train, however, training must be conducted outdoors, be non-contact, maintain social distancing, and indoor facilities – aside from change rooms and toilets – are not permitted.
It’s a big step forward for clubs as they gear up the 2021 season after the cancellation of football this season, with the following guidelines also needing to be met:
• Face coverings must be worn by all Victorians when they leave home unless they have a lawful exception.
• If you are doing exercise or a physical activity where you are out of breath or puffing, such running, you do not need to wear a face mask. You must wear a face mask before and after you exercise.
• Coaches and other necessary support staff must wear a face mask.
• Spectators must wear a face mask.
• Each Club must nominate at least one COVID Safety Officer who must undertake the free Australian Government online COVID-19 Infection Control Training prior to recommencement of Club activity.
• A log, or register, using the approved AFL Victoria template, League template, or an online app or similar, which clearly identifies all participants and officials in attendance at each training session must be maintained and available upon request by the League, AFL Victoria or health authorities.
• Sporting clubs that operate a restaurant, café or canteen within its facility should adhere to the restrictions on hospitality venues.
• Communal facilities, such as showers, changing rooms and toilets, can open provided participants abide by the Victorian State Government guidelines to limit close contact between individuals, relevant density quotients are met (i.e. four square metre rule) and no more than 20 people per indoor space they must also adhere to cleaning requirements.
• Signage must be displayed at the entry to each indoor space outlining the maximum number of people allowed at a single time.
“Returning to training and games in a safe, hygienic and controlled manner is paramount to AFL Victoria. The safety and wellbeing of all participants is the number one priority,” an AFL Victoria media release said.
“In advance of any training and games recommencing, AFL Victoria encourages all Leagues, Clubs, umpires, officials and volunteers to digest these protocols, go through an education period and formulate an education and implementation plan to return to training and games safely.
“For return to training and games to be successful, and in line with Victorian State Government advice, it is essential that all Clubs and individuals work within the protocols and do not move ahead of the restrictions in place.”