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MPNFL tackles COVID-19 outbreak and competition expansion

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Bustin’ at the chops, local footy prodigies will soon be able to unleash their lockdown frustration after training resumed on May 25 and a possible 10-week season was considered. The COVID-19 outbreak blew the whistle on the pre-season, forcing bans on both training and games, but with the introduction of return-to-training protocols, a mid-July start has been mooted.

AFL South East chief executive officer Shaun Connell said: “This is a positive step forward and provides an opportunity for clubs to re-engage with their participants, but in no way is it a guarantee to a return-to-play position.”

Some keen football-goers took to social media, voicing “come on people, find a way to play”, but Sorrento president Bernie Balmer publicly called for the season to be scrapped amid financial viability concerns about crowd attendance. Mr Connell says the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League will continue to consult with presidents about a season restart “to determine what support is needed”.

While the focus has shifted to COVID-19, preparation for the MPNFL’s hyped third division introduction remains under consideration after an expression of interest process led by a working group last year.

Asked whether Chelsea Heights, Carrum Patterson Lakes, Skye and Frankston may fit the criteria for Division 3, Mr Connell wouldn’t discuss “what approaches we did or didn’t have last year”. Previously AFL South East declared the MPNFL competition could expand to Divisions 1 and 2, each with 10 clubs, and a further eight clubs accounting for Division 3.

Transcending generational barriers at the heart of every community is footy, and its future in 2020 remains a topical discussion.


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