Football NSW Announcement – Message to Football Community

Football NSW has welcomed the announcement by the NSW Government concerning the recommencement of community sport for those participants aged 18 years and under from 1 July 2020.

Here is what Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge had to say about today’s announcement.

While welcoming the positive news for junior and youth football, this announcement continues the uncertainty for our many tens of thousands of senior players.

As you know, on 18 May 2020, Football NSW released its ‘Return to Training’ Guidelines and shortly thereafter amended the temporary suspension on all footballing activities by allowing teams to recommence training, whilst adhering to the Public Health Order, in preparation for a July return to play.

Together with your Associations and Clubs, we have all worked hard planning formats and preparing match fixtures for a revised 2020 winter football season. With this in mind, on 25 May 2020, Football NSW submitted to the NSW Government a request for an exemption to the Public Health Order to allow all football to recommence playing matches in early July.

Included in this submission was our extensive ‘Return to Play’ Guidelines which were based on the AIS’s Reboot of Sport Framework and which contained various best practice principles and measures that football was prepared to follow to keep you and the broader community as safe as possible from the further transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Whilst today’s announcement provides a welcome green light for the restart of junior and youth football, the return date for senior football remains unset. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything on your behalf to get clarity as to what that date will be. I know that many teams have commenced training and, like you, I am keen to get everyone back playing as soon as possible.

I am entirely focused on this objective.

In the meantime, I wish to summarise for you what we do know, what the NSW Government has indicated today, and football’s immediate response and position:

• That the return to sport would be subject to specific Guidelines – as I stated above, these have been prepared for football and are with the NSW Government for approval. Once approved, we will publish and share them with you;

• Training can take place in groups of ten, observing stated social distancing and other measures – this is unchanged and is outlined in the ‘Return to Training’ Guidelines that Football NSW released two weeks ago. You must continue to comply with the Public Health Order;

• Training is NOT restricted to children – and I would encourage all teams, and players of all ages, to commence training in preparation for the season’s commencement; and

• Competitions for players aged 18 and under can commence from 1 July 2020 – following today’s announcement, Football NSW and our Associations are working towards kick-off around this date.

Football NSW will immediately commence discussions with the Government concerning football for senior players in the hope that this important component of our game can also recommence playing soon and all age groups are able to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of competitive sport. Football NSW, alongside other state sporting organisations, has a meeting with the Minister for Sport tomorrow, and I commit to keeping you informed as soon as we hear anything, and we get some certainty on a recommencement date for seniors.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their patience and support during these difficult times. Please continue to train and prepare for the season by following our Guidelines, and hopefully in the not too distant future, we will be seeing our many pitches across the state full of players enjoying the game we all love so much.

Thank you, stay safe

Stuart Hodge

CEO Football NSW

/Public Release. View in full here.