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Clubs tackling their greatest opponents

Posted: 2pm 17 Jul 2020

Competitive matches will restart in many sports this weekend but behind the scenes, Moreton Bay Region’s not-for-profit clubs still face major challenges.

Nothing prepared our sporting community for COVID-19. The impact is being felt now, with some playing numbers and revenue down – and that will continue well into the future.

However, hard-working volunteers are ready to meet the challenges head on.

Emerging from shutdown, Albany Creek Excelsior (ACE) felt the need to support its football club members, was paramount.

“ACE respected the personal circumstances experienced by some families and has given refunds to those who requested it, which amounted to around 10 per cent of our members,” ACE President Tony Dooley says.

“It will have a financial impact on the club. Our operating expenses for next season will start the day after the end of this season. Electricity is the big one, occupancy costs, internet, facility maintenance etc. The committee have all sacrificed family time to ensure the safety of members and we have been really pleased with the response and take-up of our COVID protocols.”

ACE will be holding its five-a-side competition from October-December for those aged five and over-age groups.

Netball

Caboolture Netball Association Operations Director Shelly Gregory says she is “slightly nervous” about the return of junior matches on July 18.

Women resumed this week but with far fewer spectators. “The young age groups bring mum, dad and grandparents,” Shelly says.

First games will start earlier - 8am rather than the usual 9.45am - and there will be longer between matches to allow groups to leave and enter the venue.

“Obviously, people must be well to come in and we’ll have measures such as QR Code check-ins,” says Shelly, “but the biggest thing is not knowing how many people will come along.”

Rugby League

Burpengary Jets Rugby League Club secretary Miriama Tali admits “it has been hard during the shutdown, but we have found a way through”.

Jets’ Under 6-12 players return to competition matches this weekend with players in the Under-13 age group and upwards a week later.

“Some players opted not to come back but we have picked up some from other clubs which are not reopening,” Marie says.

Cricket

Caboolture Sports Cricket Club, which ‘lost’ a grand final in mid-March to COVID-19, is prepared for another hit through its summer season sign-on.

With winter football codes extending seasons into October and November, the cricket club is expecting numbers to be slightly down.

“Kids can’t play in two places at once,” says Caboolture President Steve Adams, “we’ve got to be realistic some parents may be hard-up or out of work.

“We did ask the state body to try and negotiate to swap days so footy codes played one day (each weekend) and cricket on the other. But it didn’t happen.

“We’re confident we’ll get season under way, looking at around October 10 and we’re confident about 80 per cent of our juniors will be back. To be honest, it could be a lot worse.”

By then Caboolture should also have its new indoor cricket centre open. The project, which will have five nets and changing rooms, is now around eight weeks away.

Rugby Union

The start-stop-restart season has been felt at Redcliffe Juniors Rugby Club.

“While we have restarted training, it does not feel like previous years,” says President Andy Cara.

“We have been unable to re-open our canteen and bar, parents are self-isolating and staying in their cars or doing the drop-off and pick-up.

“We have also found a lot of the kids - particularly younger ages driven primarily by parent-only decisions - have not returned and we have lost a couple of teams.

“But financially we have done okay as we have been aggressive in securing grants. It has not been great this season, but we are going to be ready for the following year.”

Image Credit: Michael Lovell

Baseball

Pine Hills Lightning will launch its summer baseball season in October well placed to meet COVID health and safety restrictions.

The new Mutch Family Field, built with Moreton Bay Regional Council, will provide more space for players at the Drysdale Reserve grounds.

“Our new Mutch Family field gives our club extra training space to spread out and maintain (social) distancing,” says Sandy Preston, secretary of Pine Hills Lightning.

“Bruce and Sue Mutch are also humbled at the news the new field is named to recognise their dedication and commitment to baseball and recognise their dear son Paul.”

Paul was the first Lightning Junior to sign a professional contract with the Minnesota Twins and was in Australia’s silver medal-winning squad at the 2004 Olympics before his passing.

AFL

Pine Rivers Swans President Mitchell says the AFL club has been “pretty lucky” financially with grants which help cover revenue lost in the shutdown.

“Player-wise, we lost a couple in the senior group because of increased work commitments,” Mitchell says, “but we’ve picked up others from a club which did not to return this season.”

Football

Maintaining close links with its 80 member clubs was one of the main aims for Football Brisbane during the shutdown.

General Manager Rafe Griffin said staff became Club Support Officers and points of contact for those facing the prospect of not coming out the other side of the football suspension.

“One of the silver linings has been the enhanced relationship between Football Brisbane and its member clubs as a result of greater collaboration and communication,” Rafe says.

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