Football Federation Australia (FFA) today advised that, after considered discussion with its nine State and Territory Member Federations and assessment of developments today, sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training as well as the NPL would be suspended for the next four weeks.
The decision will take effect from 12:00am on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 until Tuesday, 14 April 2020.
The decision comes as the latest in a series of measures being introduced by the FFA to combat the ongoing spread of COVID-19 following the announcement of its COVID-19 Guidelines yesterday and places the concerns, health and wellbeing of the Australian football and wider community as the highest priority.
Football NSW Chief Executive Officer Stuart Hodge understood that the safety and wellbeing of our football family members was put above everything else in making this decision.
“Football NSW first and foremost supports our football family members and the wider community in ensuring that their health, wellbeing and safety is paramount amidst the current climate.
“We are all unified as a sport to help ensure that the situation stabilizes by allowing our participants the chance to focus on what is important to them right now and that is keeping safe and well.
“We will continue to update all our members on the on-going changes that may occur but may I ask that each and everyone of you take care of yourselves, your family members and friends in this time of need.”
FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson explained that while disappointing, reducing community gatherings would help slow the spread of the virus and that this was the driving factor in the decision.
“Our decision today follows extensive discussions with all of Australia’s nine State and Territory Member Federations, taking into consideration the latest feedback from all levels of the football community,” Johnson said.
“We are also taking into consideration the ongoing response by both the broader international and Australian communities which is evolving almost on an hourly basis now.
“We also recognise that there have been some recent material developments which have changed the landscape significantly, including the decisions made by the Victorian and ACT Governments to declare States of Emergency late yesterday afternoon. Today, more schools, universities and also public sporting facilities have announced that they will be closing so we have had to respond quickly to this.
“It is very regrettable that grassroots football will not proceed for the next month, but as a good and responsible citizen, we recognise that our game of approximately 1.96 million participants has a significant role to play in slowing the spread of the virus.
“More Australians play grassroots football than any other team sport in the country and we have been able to listen to the voice of our community, through the establishment of the National COVID-19 Working Committee and our Guidelines, who have expressed a desire to contribute more to the nation at this time through a unified and Whole of Game response.
“As a game we need to be responsive and agile in how we deal with this situation, and we are working together around the clock to deal with this challenge. We will continue to assess our position regularly to ensure that it is reflective of the most accurate state of affairs and views of the game.
“I would like to acknowledge how Member Federations have worked so constructively with FFA, through the Working Committee and established Guidelines, to arrive at what is right for our players, coaches, officials, their families and the wider community. We are meeting on a daily basis and will continue to do so, taking into account the latest Government medical advice and community sentiment.”
Football NSW alongside the FFA will continue to communicate new developments in the lead-up to 14 April 2020.