Football Victoria President, Antonella Care and CEO, Kimon Taliadoros, provide an update on the 2021 Season.
2021 has certainly been another year of ups and downs for our state, and for football.
We brushed off the cobwebs of 2020 and saw a positive return to football in 2021, enjoying some exhilarating runs of play, giving us all hope that we could complete the football season.
But COVID-19 has proved to be a truly fierce adversary and, sadly, we once again find ourselves in a very challenging landscape for football.
FV’s vision is to provide Football For All, Anywhere, Anytime, and alongside the valuable feedback of our stakeholders, this has continued to shape our decision making process. Importantly though, the safety of our community sits above all else, as our most important consideration for all football decisions throughout the pandemic.
Our NPL and Competitions teams have worked day and night to produce an extraordinary body of work, planning multiple scenarios for every competition. This work is detailed, well-considered and milestone driven.
We would like to express our gratitude to our football community, who have engaged in roundtable discussions, completed surveys and provided direct feedback to the team, all of which has been absolutely essential for us to best align with the needs of our community.
Many of the planned scenarios have been eliminated in recent weeks, due to the key dates passing with extended lockdowns across the state. Unfortunately, the most recent Government announcement means our options to complete the 2021 season for our metropolitan Melbourne competitions have now reached an end.
The lockdown extension through September, with no guaranteed timeframe for a safe return to football, leaves us with no choice but to cancel the 2021 season for all metropolitan Melbourne competitions:
- NPL Womens (NPLW including Senior & U19)
- Victorian Premier League Womens
- Womens State League
- NPL Junior Girls
- NPL Junior Boys
- NPL Mens (NPL NPL2, NPL3, including Senior, U21 and U19)
- Mens State League
- Mens Metropolitan & Masters
- Metropolitan Community Juniors (U12-U21)
- Metropolitan MiniRoos (U7-U11)
We know this news is disappointing, particularly following last year’s abandoned season. Winter sport has borne the brunt of lockdowns and in turn, the impact on our football community has been immense. Our Clubs, Associations, Officials, Administrators, Volunteers and Players have bravely weathered the storm, rallying through each round of restrictions, showing a resilience that I know will keep our community strong through yet another challenge.
We are so pleased that there is still the possibility for players in Regional Victoria to return to football, once Government restrictions allow and subject to FV’s Return to Play conditions. Clubs should refer to their Associations for further information, following these government announcements.
FV will engage directly with the Clubs involved in our Nike F.C. Cup and Dockerty Cup finals, to determine if these matches can be played before the end of the year.
We appreciate you will have questions about what this cancellation means for promotion, relegation and awarding champions this season. Please see the summary which outlines the circumstances for our competitions below.
Further information will be sent by Friday, September 17 regarding how FV’s Fee Refund Policy applies, related to Football Victoria and Football Australia’s component of fees.
We all love football. It’s not just about the 90 minutes on the pitch. Football is entwined with so many parts of our lives. Our game has the power to unite communities and we know today’s announcement will leave many feeling flat. I urge you to stay connected to your friends, your teammates, your wider football community in different ways. Our COVID-19 Football portal contains links to key mental health programs that may be of assistance as we navigate the pandemic.
You can join in the discussion online in our new ‘Victoria's Football History’ group, where you can share your stories, memories and photos and discuss all aspects of our proud football history.
Or move your competitive football online to FV’s inaugural E-Series. Players can enter for free and take to the virtual pitch with great prizes on offer.
Once we are past these immediate challenges, football will return. In line with community feedback, different formats of our game will also be on offer across spring and summer, particularly for junior participants. FV are committed to providing football when possible, including our popular GO Fives/GO Sevens and Futsal programs, before we prepare for a return to our winter season in 2022.
Like you, we hope that the Government’s plan to move through this pandemic with vaccination milestones, will return us to a far more standard football season next year. While our Competitions team will focus on finalising the 2021 season as a priority, planning will also shortly commence for the 2022 season.
In advance of the 2022 season, the Board is committed to ensuring the Rules of Competition reflect a clear set of principles enabling promotion, relegation and championships being decided in the event of any future interrupted or incomplete seasons. This will form part of our regular post season review and consultation process with our football community and stakeholders.
We are here to support our football community. We encourage Clubs to explore the Club Support Program portal, to stay across available government grants and our library of videos, which may provide assistance with some of the key challenges Clubs are currently facing.
Our COVID-19 FAQs provide answers to key areas related to this announcement. If you have specific questions, please contact the relevant competitions department:
- NPL Competitions: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Community Competitions: email@example.com
- Cup Competitions: firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of FV’s Board of Directors, Management and staff, we applaud the army of volunteers within our football community for their outstanding endeavours this year to keep football running in Victoria. While we may not have made it to the final whistle right across the state, your efforts have provided thousands of footballers with the opportunity to live and love football.
And we will be back.
Sincerely yours in football,
Football Victoria President
Football Victoria CEO