RETURN TO PLAY
This is Brian Jackson, Club Secretary. Starting this week I have taken on the role of the Wildcats COVID Safety Officer. This message is quite long but it has a lot of important information.
We are on the way to a Return to Play. AFL NSW/ACT are working hard and planning for a truncated but still substantial season, at this stage likely starting in July and finishing late September. If all goes well, we will get a good block of football played in coming months. Auskick will also resume once the season starts.
But first there will be a resumption of training for our youth and junior teams, starting with small groups of 10. The NSW Government has relaxed restrictions and Willoughby Council has now approved a return to formal training sessions at Gore Hill as soon as we have a proper framework in place.
The AFL has given us the framework to follow and it is up to us a Club to implement that framework.
The main page to check out on the AFL website is here:
The official statement from the AFL is here:
And the Framework is here:
The Framework provides a detailed set of protocols across three areas.
- Training Protocols – these specify what training sessions will look like.
- Hygiene Protocols – these specify what hygiene practices and standards must be followed.
- Education Protocols – these specify what everyone in the club needs to know before training resumes.
This email is a key part of the Education Protocols. In order to resume training we have to make sure everyone is informed on and complies with the guidelines and rules laid out in the Framework. Coaches, officials, parents, and players all need to be on board with this.
Full details of the Training Protocols and Hygiene Protocols are in the Framework linked to above, but we can summarise the key points.
Training sessions will be three groups of 10 (including players and coach) on an oval at any one time, with no mixing between groups, no physical contact between participants, 1.5 metre social distancing, a log to record attendance, and no equipment other than footballs and cones. Parents are to keep off the field and maintain social distance. There is also no access to change rooms and players are expected to turn up ready to train. The message is: Get in, Train, Get Out.
A schedule for training sessions for each Age Group will be arranged soon. Age-Group Coordinators and coaches will manage attendance. With only 30 people allowed on the field at any one time it will be a difficult challenge accommodating all our players and there will be some system used in each age group to manage this. Please bear with us.
The Framework’s Hygiene Protocols are straight-forward and in line with what has been adopted in schools and elsewhere. Hand sanitiser will be provided at training sessions and footballs will be wiped before and after sessions. No physical contact, no spitting, cough/sneeze appropriately, no sharing of water bottles etc, no access to change rooms, stay away if you are unwell or have been in contact with someone who is unwell.
Coaches will be briefed on all of this in more detail in a videoconference on Monday night. And once training resumes, coaches will brief and remind players about the protocols before each session. But parents also need to be aware of what needs to happen, so please make sure you are clear about that is in this email and consult the linked documents for more detail.
The AFL’s Framework recommends that clubs implement a minimum one-week “Preparation and Education Stage” before training resumes. For the Wildcats, this stage started Thursday May 21st when the Committee discussed the Framework and appointed me as COVID Safety Officer. This email also represents an important step in this stage, as will the coaches’ videoconference on Monday May 25th. We have also been in touch with Willoughby Council to let them know what the plan is and what we are doing to fulfil the plan.
All this means that we are on track to resume training at Gore Hill by the end of the month as long as everyone is clear about what they need to do and we all follow through. We are aiming to have training sessions on weekday afternoons, Sundays (until the season begins), and potentially Saturdays at an alternative venue for at least a few weeks.
These plans for a return to training apply to our youth and junior teams. Auskick, unfortunately, is not yet ready to return under the AFL’s Framework. Our expectation is that Auskick will resume once the playing season starts and so we are hoping that it will take place from sometime in July until sometime in September. We will let you know as soon as we have more information.
The Framework also recommends that everyone involved with the club downloads the COVID-SAFE app it they have not already done so. The ability to trace contacts once training resumes will be an important element of making this safe and minimising the risk that tighter restrictions will be re-introduced. The app can be accessed here:
Everyone – but particularly coaches and officials – are also encouraged to complete online training about COVID safety. The online module does not take long to complete but having a large number of our community doing it will demonstrate the Club’s commitment to making sure that our operations comply with public health guidleines. The training can be accessed here:
So that’s the plan. As COVID Safety Officer I will be the main contact for all of this, but will also have other officials assisting me. If you have any queries or concerns about the plan, please get in touch at email@example.com or on 0416 721173. If you complete the online training module, please email your certificate of completion to me at this email address.
This message and the links in it will be going up on a dedicated page of our website, and we will continue to update that page and send further emails as required.