Lifting COVID restrictions in regional Victoria allows community sport training to resume but competition is still not possible. Football and netball finals, which were to have started on august 21, are in limbo pending a possible further easing of restrictions.

The Central Highlands Football League is conscious of not impinging on cricket season and is still hopeful of playing some finals before the season end date of October 2. The Ballarat Football Netball League called time on the 2021 season on September 1.

The CHFL has contingency plans depending on the length of the possible playing window.

If play can recommence on September 18, allowing three weeks play, the first week would see the ladder leader at the end of the regular season play 8th, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th and 4th vs 5th. Preliminary Finals in week 2 would then be the highest ranked winner vs the lowest ranked winner and second highest ranked winner vs the third. Winners would progress to the Grand Final.

If only two weeks play are possible, the top four teams would play: 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd with winners progressing to the Grand Final.

If only one week is possible, the top two teams on the ladder would play for the premiership.

It seems unlikely that the Victorian Government will relax restrictions in the regions for at least two weeks so the second of the above scenarios is probably the best-case outcome.

Hepburn Football Netball Club has senior and reserves football teams in second place on their respective ladders. The A Grade and B Grade netball teams finished on top of their ladders.

Daylesford Football Netball Club has Under 15 football and Under 17 netball teams hoping to play finals.

Daylesford Football Netball Club president, Carson White, said he was disappointed for players who had worked so hard in difficult and unpredictable circumstances. “I really feel for our players,” he said. “They get so excited about playing finals!”

In any case, finals will probably be played without spectators. Only the minimum number of people required for play to proceed (players, coaches, trainers, umpires, parents of junior players) will be allowed into venues for finals matches.