The Football Wagga Wagga grand final could potentially coincide with the beginning of the cricket and swimming seasons in an audacious plan to extend the Riverina’s largest community sporting competition.
Typically played in early September, FWW is hoping eight local government areas and a variety of different cricket associations will be on board with the proposal.
After FWW’s meeting on Wednesday night, president Tony Dobbin admitted it was a radical move but said that any proposed FWW competition couldn’t end any earlier than early October.
“We are saying mid-July is the earliest return date and if all goes well, it gives us something to work with,” Dobbin said.
“We can’t afford to finish any earlier than October, each team needs to play each other once and with finals, it takes us to early October.”
Dobbin is leaving the issue of ground availability to clubs but said that FWW would get involved if need be, while the president also offered an alternative to certain teams that would essentially see split home and away seasons.
“The kicker for us is ground availability and the FWW competition spreads across eight different local government areas and we believe it is better for clubs to contact the councils initially and we will step in and help out if we need to,” Dobbin said.
“For Tumut, they will need to contact the Snowy Valleys Council and establish if playing in October is a possibility, or alternatively, if playing all of their home games towards the start of the season is a better option.”
Another idea floated to potentially shorten the season was mid-week games, and Dobbin said this was still on the cards despite Tumut, and other club’s angst against the idea.
“We may instead play a couple of rounds mid-week, which would compress the season,” Dobbin said.
“We have a lot of players at Cootamundra, Tumut and some in Wagga who are shift workers, and who can’t play mid-week, but we have a lot of players who also like the idea.”
Another issue for FWW is the vast difference in each competition, with the organisers needing to account for two women’s and four men’s competitions, and as result, FWW have asked clubs to help decide on the key decisions being made.
“We have six senior competitions and each of these competition will look different,” Dobbin said.
“We asked the clubs to form a working party to determine what each competition will look like and that is because each club is unique and have very different issues.
“We meet again this Wednesday and we hope to iron out a lot of these concerns.”
When quizzed on training and the possibility of groups of 10 or less players getting together, Dobbin was hoping clubs would remain patient.
“Right now, teams cannot train but it looks as though we should be able to train by the end of next week,” Dobbin said.
“That is dependent on the Office of Sport saying yes we can train, and FWW having guidelines on how this would happen.
“Whatever is decided, It will be no contact and limited to no more than 10 people per group, and training will be about passing skills, ball skills, fitness and hand eye coordination.”
Dobbin understood that clubs and players might find this whole process a little frustrating but wanted to reiterate that this all meant a return to football was becoming a more likely option.
“A return to football is getting much more realistic,” Dobbin said.
“We are closer to returning than most sports and we hope these meetings mean we are ready to go when we can the all clear, but we need clubs on board.”
Dobbin believes the amateur nature of the FWW competition will help in the return of the game, touching on the fact that operating costs weren’t impacted either way.
“One thing we are really lucky with, is that we are totally amateur, we don’t pay players,” Dobbin said.
“Other competitions pay players and coaches, and are semi professional, while we have fixed costs, we don’t have salaries.
“We are very lucky that we have been able to sit back and see how this would evolve.”
FWW will again meet with club delegates on Wednesday night in the hope that competition details can be sorted and a more concrete pathway in the return to training and playing can be established.