Update from Northern NSW Football Chair and CEO

April 17th, 2020

7.00pm 17 April 2020

We write on behalf of Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) to provide the football community with an update following the announcement by Football Federation Australia (FFA) on 1 April that all football activity remains suspended at least until 31 May.

NNSWF and the seven Member Zones continue our scenario planning for the deferred season subject to the status of the current NSW Public Health Order. The suspension of all football activities must therefore continue until at least 30 June, unless the order is lifted earlier. In response, competition administrators are working towards getting on the pitch from early July. NNSWF will continue to strictly follow Government advice and only allow participants to get back on the pitch when it is deemed safe to do so.

Regardless of when we get on the pitch Football is going to be different this season. We are all going to need to be patient, flexible, considerate and cooperative. It’s clear based on the COVID – 19 Guidelines for Football released by FFA prior to the initial suspension that we’ll need to modify the way we schedule, prepare, play, train, referee, coach, socialise and celebrate to ensure we comply and keep our vast football family safe and healthy. NNSWF has asked Local Government Authorities on behalf of our 230 member clubs to extend football’s use of facilities to the end of October in 2020 and waive venue hire fees. Electricity suppliers have also been asked to consider providing clubs with discounts.

Unfortunately it’s far from business as usual at NNSWF. The pandemic and subsequent suspension of all football activities have had a huge impact on our operations including the closure of the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility and First Touch Football Supplies. In recent weeks the Board of Directors has overseen a budget review which slashed $5.3 million worth of expenditure from our $10 million budget for 2020. Regrettably, 60% of our current full-time staff have been stood down and a number of vacant positions haven’t been filled. The Board’s determined to protect the game’s reserves to ensure when the suspension is lifted that we have the overall capacity to assist Zones and clubs to deliver the best possible football experience and restore social cohesion.

NNSWF and Football NSW are in regular contact with the Acting Minister for Sport and the Office for Sport advocating for Football throughout NSW. NNSWF along with other State Sporting Organisations have urged the Minister for Sport to formally confirm that the proceeds of the Active Kids Vouchers ($2.7m currently held substantially in club accounts across the seven zones in NNSWF) are retained and shared throughout the game in the event that the season doesn’t get underway in 2020. It is again important to highlight that AKV’s cannot be refunded in cash or in any other form and given to parents or players. If the NSW Government approves the retention of the AKV’s, it will be on the condition that the funds are retained to assist the immediate administration costs incurred from club level to FFA.

This gesture would certainly assist NNSWF to absorb the significant costs already incurred in 2020 and to consider refunding the member federation levy if the season doesn’t proceed. NNSWF and the Member Zones have been working on and agreed upon a split of the AKV proceeds which aims to keep the “light on” at every level of the game from clubs through to FFA.

Regretfully, the pandemic and subsequent suspension have forced NNSWF to either cancel or suspend a significant number of scheduled events. Click here to keep up to date with what activities have been impacted.

It’s not the same, but every echelon of the game including FFA, Member Federations, A-League Clubs, Zones and clubs are doing their best to keep the vast football community engaged and active throughout this challenging time. Click here for the FFA’s #PlayAtHome Challenge. Watch out for a series of online Newcastle Permanent Masterclasses hosted by some outstanding guest coaches and specialists. NNSWF has also released a four-week MiniRoos at Home program developed by Coach Education Coordinator, Jarrad Denham.

NNSWF is committed to keeping stakeholders as informed as we can during these unpredictable times. We’ll provide a further update in May, or sooner if pertinent information comes to hand.

Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who are keeping their clubs operating and responding to enquiries from their members and communities. Please do not hesitate to reach out to NNSWF or your respective Member Zones if you need assistance.

NNSWF greatly appreciates your ongoing patience and wish you and your families the very best of health.

Yours in Football,

Helene O’Neill – Chairperson, Northern NSW Football
David Eland – CEO, Northern NSW Football


6.00pm 3 April 2020 – Letter from CEO David Eland Surrounding Operational Restructure in Response to COVID-19

Dear Members,

At a time of year when volunteers, players, coaches and match officials across our seven Member Zones and Premier Competitions would normally be enjoying their football, we are all instead, faced with one of the most challenging situations our game has experienced.

It is with apprehension and sadness that like many other businesses and organisations Northern NSW Football has made the difficult decision to implement significant, yet temporary changes to its organisational structure in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent suspension of football.

This restructure will affect all Northern NSW Football staff and regretfully, includes the standing down of 60% of our employees for at least the next two months.

It is of course, distressing for all of the hard-working staff at Northern NSW Football to be informed of the decision. The team has worked tirelessly throughout the suspension to date, the level of collaboration and productivity in extremely difficult circumstances has been outstanding. I am so proud to lead this team of dedicated professionals.

Please know this is not an action we take lightly. It’s necessary to ensure we have the capacity to hit the ground running when we get back on the pitch. You can be assured that we’ll be ready to partner you in your efforts to rebuild communities and social cohesion.

As challenging as this situation is, I am uplifted by the support the football community has shown to each other. It is important that we continue to look out for each other during these difficult times and pull together.

I wish you and those close to you well, please stay safe and healthy and I encourage you to continue to prepare for the season, in whatever format that may be.

Our team will continue to work with all stakeholders to navigate through and bounce back from this challenge.

David Eland
CEO
Northern NSW Football


7:00pm 1 April 2020 – Suspension of Football Extended to 31 May 2020. 

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today advised that, in light of ongoing developments since its original announcement, including stricter measures imposed by the Federal Government in response to COVID-19, the temporary suspension to sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training would remain in place until at least 31 May 2020.

The decision is another in a series of measures taken by FFA in response to COVID-19 in consultation with its State and Territory Member Federations and the National COVID-19 Working Committee.

FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said: “Since our initial announcement, there have been numerous declarations made by, and introduced, across all levels of Government. The measures have continuously tightened restrictions around community gatherings, and the measures announced by the Prime Minister recently increased these restrictions further. While we were not due to make a formal assessment until 14 April 2020, we felt it best to consider our position now in light of this most recent announcement.

“We have determined, with the full backing of all Member Federations, that the temporary suspension to sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training will remain in place until at least 31 May 2020. We will continue to stay in close communications
with our Member Federations in the lead up to 31 May 2020, to ensure that the individual circumstances of each state and territory in relation to the status of COVID-19 and the measures or restrictions imposed by individual State/Territory Governments are being
considered.

“These are unprecedented times and at this moment, it is very difficult to predict what further measures will be introduced, or for how much longer current measures will be in place. As we have done with all our decisions to date, we will remain agile and responsive to the
prevailing circumstances and still remain optimistic that our Member Federations, which are already considering what adjusted competitions will look like, will be able to complete the grassroots season this year.

“Any decision to resume grassroots football will be made in line with the Federal Government, taking into account the latest health advice at the time to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the football and wider community, and in full consultation with our Member Federations and the National COVID-19 Working Committee. The safety of the football community remains our priority.

“We recognise that our participants across the country are eager to understand what all of this means for them so we hope that the announcement today can give them some piece of mind and we ask that they remain positive during these difficult times. As a sport, we
must continue to undertake our civic duty as a responsible citizen and do everything we can to contribute to the national efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Football people are resilient, have a strong moral compass and, consequently, I am sure our community will
understand this position. FFA will continue to communicate material updates in the lead up to 31 May 2020.

In order to help the grassroots football community stay active and connected throughout the temporary suspension period, FFA and its Member Federations have developed the Skills Hub – allowing players to practice skills and to get involved with the #PlayAtHomeChallenge, more info visit: www.playfootball.com.au/skills-hub


3.00pm 23 March 2020

To assist answer some of the questions coming from Clubs and Players, we’ve developed some Frequently Asked Questions which can be viewed here.

Northern NSW Football is continuing to work with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to develop some online materials and activities we can all participate in during the hiatus. Keep updated by following us on Facebook or keep checking here for more information.


5.00pm 17 March 2020

Football throughout Northern NSW will be suspended from midnight tonight (17 March 2020) until 14 April 2020.

FFA today convened a meeting of the National COVID-19 Working Committee and the Presidents of the State Body Members to further discuss football’s response to COVID-19. After careful consideration and having regard to the feedback received from the grassroots community, FFA advised that effective from 12:00am on 18 March 2020, all sanctioned grassroots football activity in Australia will be suspended until 14 April 2020.  Media Release available here.

This suspension includes, however is not limited to: playing, training, grading, match official and coach development, at all levels of grassroots football across the Northern NSW Football footprint.

It is important to note that the season has not been cancelled.

Please note NNSWF met with its seven (7) Member Zones surrounding the suspension and each Member Zone is committed to and considering the impacts this recent decision has on the season and is focusing on maximising participation in the event the seasons may be disrupted.

We encourage all Clubs to continue receiving and activating player registrations and providing Member Zones the information required for them to construct competitions and MiniRoos fixtures for when the season continues.

NNSWF is committed to providing its Members, participants and stakeholders with updates as new information becomes available.

Please don’t contact NNSWF and the Member Zones in relation to updates., all available information will be made available on www.northernnswfootball.com.au or will be advised in due course.


1.00pm Tuesday 17 March 2020 

FFA STATEMENT

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today advised that it is actively reassessing its position regarding the continuation of all sanctioned grassroots football activities at this time, including competitions, matches and training.

Consistent with Australian Government requirements, FFA had earlier this week released guidelines that organised grassroots football competitions may continue but with additional measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the football community.

Since it released its guidelines, FFA has been in constant communication with its community and is continuously receiving a variety of feedback from its grassroots, including competition administrators, and across the game more broadly.

FFA is currently working together with representatives from each of its nine State and Territory Member Federations and other relevant stakeholders, within the framework of its guidelines, to ensure that it is responsive to what is a dynamic and continuously-evolving issue and that the health and wellbeing of both the football and wider community remains the highest priority.

FFA will communicate a further update later today, Northern NSW Football will share with its Members when it is released.


1:30pm Monday 16 March 2020

Amid the ever-evolving information surrounding the COVID-19, Northern NSW Football advises it is continuing to work with and heeding the advice of Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Federal Health Authorities to continue to navigate decisions surrounding the 2020 Season.

At this point in time, Football will ‘Play On’ with some guidelines in place by Football Federation Australia to assist you in preparing for your current season and/or upcoming season please see the complete media statement here

A summary of precautions is listed below:

  1. Senior training sessions and fixtures should only be attended by players, team officials, match officials and volunteers who are essential to the conduct of the activity;
  2. Junior training sessions and fixtures should only be attended by players accompanied by one parent, team officials, match officials and volunteers who are essential to the conduct of the activity;
  3. Parents attending junior football should exercise social distancing and spread out around the pitch i.e. not congregate in close proximity wither side of half-way when watching fixtures;
  4. Players should refrain from any interaction including post goal celebrations which include close contact. A fist pump is adequate in the current circumstances
  5. Players, team officials and match officials should refrain from shaking hands and/or embracing before and after matches
  6. Team huddles should be avoided, and
  7. Team meetings in enclosed change rooms should be kept to a minimum.

Please read the following Frequently Asked Questions for further information.

Please see here for information specific to Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.

Further information will be released as it comes to hand, clubs can access resources from Club Headquarters which will be updated periodically. Please continue to visit www.northernnswfootball.com.au to remain up-to-date.

Related Topics:
COVID-19

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