Return to Play Portal

The impact of COVID-19 resulted in the suspension of all football activities since early March.

Since this time, the priority of Northern NSW Football has been to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the community and to undertake it’s social responsibility to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in line with National and NSW Government Public Health Orders.

Given football is played outdoors, the risk of infection whilst playing is minimal, and now with the rate of of infection greatly reduced, it is time for us to commence the season!

From 1 July, the documentation on this page supersedes  Return to Training – Level 1 Guidelines which were in affect from AEST Tuesday 26 May 2020.

23 July NOTICE: 

All participants, whether player, volunteer, parent or spectator are reminded to follow the advice of NSW Health at all times. Do not attend any football activity if you have even the mildest of symptoms or if you have visited any of the locations as listed at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/latest-news-and-updates#latest-covid-19-case-locations-in-nsw    Keep each other safe, err on the side of caution.

For those visiting Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility please assist staff in adhering to its COVID-19 Safety Plan (updated 23 July 2020). 

16 July NOTICE: 

This afternoon, Northern NSW Football received this letter from the NSW Government’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, who has written to all Community Sporting Organisations requesting that additional measures be taken to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

It is important that the football family supports the NSW Government and the broader community by limiting the number of spectators attending matched and encouraging participants to continue social distancing measures whenever possible.

This is effective immediately and is vital for the successful continuation of our competitions throughout the state.

Northern NSW Football is working with the Office of Sport, our Member Zones and Clubs to update the COVID-19 Safety Plan Template to reflect the new directives.

Once this is complete, we will update it on our Return to Play Portal and advise all clubs in readiness for this weekend’s activities.  It is important all Clubs, update their COVID-19 Safety Plan and have it on hand if requested over the weekend by any Councils or State Government Authorities.


Frequently Asked Questions

As football returns, the onus is on the individual to ensure they are doing the right thing to protect themselves and others, just like when you attend the supermarket, school, restaurant or pub.

Everyone has a responsibility to do the right thing and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Anyone attending any football activity whether it be training, community match days or Premier games, are asked to uphold Public Health Orders, maintain 1.5m from each other, maintain good hygiene and follow advice of club officials and volunteers.

All Return to Play documentation supersedes the previous Return to Training Guidelines unless otherwise advised. The COVID-19 situation remains fluid and we as a sport need to ensure we continue work with government at all levels to maintain the safety of ourselves and others.

General

If I display symptoms, when can I return to training, volunteering, playing or coaching?

As per NSW Health Advice, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19 and remain quarantined and do not attend training or play until the results of your test are known.

If I test positive for COVID-19 do I need to get tested before returning?

If you require testing, you will be advised by NSW Health as to what is required before returning to work, school or organised sport.

Where can I find out more about COVID-19?

Australian Government Department of Health

NSW Government Department of Health

World Health Organisation

Australian Institute of Sport

Sport Australia

Players, coaches, volunteers and parents are all encouraged to approach their club directly with any enquiries not covered within these resources. Please remember it is up to all of us to keep each other safe.

Players

Should we shake hands prior to or following a match?

Players will no longer be encouraged to shake hands with each other or with match officials in an attempt to minimise unnecessary physical contact.

Can I spit? Can I spit on my gloves?

All players, including goalkeepers, are to refrain from spitting and other unhygienic actions like clearing your nose at all times. If wetting of gloves is required, please use your own drink bottle.

Can we stay to watch other games other than ours?

Yes. However, once your match is concluded you are considered a spectator and should abide by all social distancing guidelines including standing or sitting 1.5m away from others.

Do I need to sign in at training or matches?

Not for COVID-19 purposes.

Your registration in PlayFootball is sufficient for your club to identify you were at training or at a match in the case of COVID-19 tracing. However, it is  compulsory that all players, coaches, match officials and all volunteers (of all capacities) are registered in PlayFootball.

However, your team may still be required to complete a Team Sheet prior to each match on game day. In this case, one official from each team must complete the Team Sheet and players are not required to sign it.

If you are unsure as to whether this applies to you please refer to your competition regulations or ask your Club.

Can we celebrate goals? Undertake team huddles?

Teams should try to maintain social distancing wherever possible. It is recommended that players avoid team huddles and group celebrations where possible.

Teams are encouraged to consider more creative ways to celebrate.

Will change rooms and wet rooms be open for training and match days?

Yes, however they are limited to essential players and team staff only.

Players are encouraged to shower at home prior to and following training and matches wherever possible to minimise contact with others.

Maximum numbers of people allowed within an indoor space will be indicated on the entry to the room.

Am I permitted to wear a mask while playing?

Masks can be worn during training sessions, however not during competition matches. They are considered as extra equipment and have the potential to be unsafe to the individual or other players.

For further information surrounding equipment allowed to be worn during a match refer to The Laws of the Game.

Can we still carpool with other players?

You may carpool with other players if you come from the same household, however it is up to you as an individual to abide by NSW Government Public Health Orders in terms of social distancing.

Coaches

How often does equipment need to be cleaned?

Frequently touched equipment (particularly balls) should be wiped down prior to each match or training session.

Do I need to continue to keep attendance sheets?

No, your registration in PlayFootball is sufficient for your club to identify you were at training or at a match in the case of COVID-19 tracing.

It is compulsory that all players, coaches, match officials and all volunteers (of all capacities) are registered in PlayFootball.

Can we return to full contact training?

Yes. However, when off-field, it is recommended protocols of 1.5m social distancing are adhered to.

Can we play friendly matches?

Yes. Please refer to the appropriate sanctioning procedure outlined by your competition administrator.

Match Officials

What should I do when a player comes within 1.5m of me?

During play, this is unavoidable. Whenever possible when one-on-one conversation is required, match officials and players are encouraged to maintain the 1.5m distance between them.

What should I do if a player coughs or shows any other signs of symptoms of COVID-19?

Match Officials are not required to determine who is well or unwell. Participants with any symptoms are discouraged to play or attend football matches or training, it is up to the individual to take responsibility to not spread the virus.

What should I do when a player deliberately coughs at another player or myself? 

This should be dealt with by the referee and is considered unsporting behaviour. You should caution the player and follow through in accordance to The Laws of the Game.

What if a player vomits or begins bleeding?

This has not changed as per previous. Vomit or blood should be washed away using water before play is restarted, all blood or vomit must be cleaned off the player, their uniform and equipment before they can return to the field of play.

What should I do if a player or team official spits on the ground, clears their nose or rinses their mouth out with water?

It is not a Match Officials role to uphold the NSW Public Health Order. Players are strongly discouraged to undertake this type of behaviour.

Are players permitted to wear a mask while playing?

Masks can be worn during training sessions, however not on the field of play. In competition matches they are considered as extra equipment and have the potential to be unsafe to the individual or other players. Players and team officials are permitted to wear masks in the technical area.

For further information surrounding equipment allowed to be worn during a match refer to The Laws of the Game.

Can I share my equipment with a colleague?

It is highly recommended to not share personal equipment such as whistles, flags, cards or pens. If absolutely necessary, ensure the equipment is cleaned/sanitised prior to and following use.

When should I arrive for and leave my match?

Match Officials are encouraged not arrive at the venue until 15 minutes prior to the match, are encouraged to arrive in uniform and prepare as much as possible at home (e.g. match record cards, stretching etc).

When you arrive at the ground you should then only need to collect the team sheet, give pre-match instructions and undertake a short warm-up.

Match Officials are also encouraged to leave the ground swiftly following the match after completing the necessary record keeping and a warm down. Assessors should not undertake face-to-face debriefs at the ground; this should be completed via phone.

Will I have access to change rooms / dressing sheds?

In some cases, and at some venues (where space and Council restrictions allow) dressing sheds will be made available for storage of gear or to take shelter in the case of extreme weather.

They will not be made available for showering.

Wherever possible it is best to leave your personal belongings safely in your car boot.

What is the pre-match walk out procedure?

Both teams will enter the field separately, Match Officials should check teams’ equipment on the field, the two captains will meet the match officials in the middle of the field for the coin toss.

There will no longer be handshakes between players or match officials. If players choose to shake hands with each other, Match Officials are not required to stop this.

What do I do if teams undertake high fives, huddles or hugging prior to or during the match?

Teams have been advised to maintain social distancing wherever possible. It is recommended that players avoid team huddles and group celebrations where possible and to consider more creative ways to celebrate as individuals.

Match Officials may choose to remind players of social distancing; however, it is not required for the Match Official to sanction if it occurs.

Am I responsible for ensuring social distancing is adhered to in the technical area?

In short, no. The technical area will be set up to ensure social distancing is possible by the host club. You may wish to remind the teams prior to the match; however Match Officials are not required to oversee this.

Spectators

May I bring my entire family to watch games or training?

No. Wherever possible, just one parent should accompany a child player and wherever practical senior community matches should be restricted to essential personnel only.

Where can I sit?

In most cases you will be able to sit as per prior to the pandemic as long as per the Public Health Order spectators maintain 1.5m distance from those not from their household.

Spectators may be able to sit in grandstands or permanent seating, however in accordance with Local Council orders, this will vary from venue to venue.

In some venues there may be markers identifying 1.5m. Please always adhere to venue signage and club official advice.

Can I sit with my family?

It is recommended that minimal people attend matches, however if you have a family member from the same household with you due to necessity (e.g. other siblings who you require to be with you), then yes, you may sit together, however remain socially distanced (1.5m) from others.

Club Committees & Volunteers

Can more than 100 people per match attend or more than 500 people be in the venue at one time?

NOTE 1 JULY 2020:

Following this morning’s release of the new Public Health Order which specifies a maximum number of attendees at a community sporting activity as 500.

 NNSWF has been in contact with the Minister for Sport’s Office today and representatives from NSW Health to discuss the impact that this restriction will have at facilities comprising multiple pitches. Football has lodged a request for an exemption to apply the 1 person per 4 square metre principle at facilities with multiple pitches as per previous advice.

For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the 500 maximum attendance restriction applies from 1 July. Clubs will be updated if our exemption request is granted.

Clubs are encouraged to use signage to reflect this from the printable signage page in the portal.

How do I work out the capacity of spaces within my venue?

To work this out, divide the area you are measuring (in m2  ) by 4.

In some cases, your Council/ LGA and/or Competition Administrator will be able to assist you in finding these details. Please note, you should also consider the 4m2   protocol for indoor areas and place signage on entry as to the recommended number of people to enter at one time.

Can we have spectators? Are there any restrictions on who may attend?

Anyone can come along, as long as they maintain social distancing (1.5m apart). Families living in the same household do not need to social distance.

Keep in mind the capacity of your venue as above, if you have fences and/or fixed entry.

Community football clubs are not responsible for counting heads. Spectators will be managed through fixtures being more spread out and encouraging swift entry and exit of the venue.

Do we need to restrict where people can sit/stand?

In most cases this will not be an issue. Individuals are responsible for social distancing and adhering to signage and volunteer advice.

If you have grandstands or permanent seating, you should consider identifying 1.5m with tape in accordance to your hiring agreement and Council recommendations.

Can people sit in our stands and our fixed seating?

Dependent on your hiring agreement, this is possible. It is recommended you provide signage reminding people to social distance (1.5m).

How often does frequently used equipment need to be cleaned?

Frequently touched equipment (particularly balls) should be wiped down prior to each match or training session.

Other non-football related equipment such as pens, sauce bottles etc should be wiped down between each use.

Can we operate a canteen?

Yes. As long as your landlord (Council, School, etc.) permits you to do so.

We recommend considering pre-packaged foods, providing gloves to volunteers and try pricing in ‘whole’ amounts to minimise unnecessary cash handling.

To assist volunteers, ensure there is hand sanitiser and disposable gloves available for use. If there is a sink, ensure soap is available and hand-washing procedures are clearly visible.

Make sure you check the requirements of your hiring agreement and Councils so that you are abiding by local requirements specific to your venue.

Who is responsible for ensuring people are standing 1.5m apart?

Each individual is responsible for themselves. The Club’s responsibility is to take reasonable steps to encourage the correct behaviour.

Clubs do this through:

– Displaying relevant signage throughout the venue;

– Communicating clearly to your volunteers and members through your club channels surrounding social distancing and hygiene practices. This may include announcements on PAs.

Links to appropriate signage can be found here.

How do we know how many people can be in the canteen, change rooms, sheds, bathroom at once? Do we need to patrol this?

Measure the area in m2 and divide by 4.

As a club your role is to take reasonable steps to inform and communicate the maximum number of people that can be allowed in these areas.

Once you have worked out the maximum capacity, you should display this on the entry to the space.

Can we have face-to-face committee/team meetings?

You may have face-to-face meetings if social distancing is practiced (1.5m and 1 person per 4m2). We encourage you where possible to conduct meetings via telephone or video conferencing.

Enough time to discourage groups co-mingling and provide people the opportunity to leave without coming in to contact with large groups of others coming in.

How much time should we allow between training sessions?

This will vary depending on your ground. If you have a venue which is entirely open without fencing, then this is less relevant if you have a fenced ground with just one entry. If you require further advice surrounding the specifics of your venue, contact your Zone or Competition Administrator for assistance.

What if someone is ignoring social distancing? 

The onus is on individuals to ensure they are undertaking the right measures to not spread COVID-19, just like we are when we attend the supermarket, school, restaurant or pub.

Anyone attending a football match or training in northern NSW is asked to respect NSW Public Health Orders, maintain 1.5m from one another, maintain good hygiene and follow advice of club officials and volunteers.

Clubs are required to take reasonable steps in communicating social distancing and hygiene recommendations to its members and those they host at grounds. This can be done via club communications, signage and/or ground announcements.

If as a club or volunteer (e.g duty officer) you are asked to get involved you should respectfully ask the individual to maintain social distancing.

It is not expected these issues will arise frequently, however if the problem continues or escalates you may need to ask the individual/s to leave the venue. This situation should be treated like any similar conflict would be treated as per the Spectator Code of Conduct.

Can the club be held responsible for someone contracting COVID-19?

According to the advice we have received, as long as you and your club have undertaken and can demonstrate reasonable measures to uphold the Public Health Orders and have  encouraged social distancing and good hygiene you will be supported by all relevant insurance policies.

By agreeing to, implement and communicate your Club’s COVID-19 Safety Plan to volunteers and officials, you will enable everyone to have a greater understanding of what is required.

What should we do if someone in the club contracts COVID-19?

NSW Health has a stringent and proven process in following up all positive COVID-19 cases.

When a person is confirmed as having  Covid-19, NSW Health representatives will take all appropriate actions in identifying and contacting  the relevant organisations and individuals connected with each case.

In some cases, NSW Health may request information surrounding attendance at training sessions and matches. The club will need to be able to produce a list of names and contact details. This information is able to be retrieved through PlayFootball.

This is why it is essential for all players, coaches, club officials and volunteers of all types to be registered in PlayFootball.

Under no circumstances should any cases be shared on social media or among teams or parents unless otherwise advised by NSW Health.

How much hand sanitiser do we need to provide?

Clubs should provide hand sanitiser to assist their volunteers and have it available close to highly used areas such as canteen counters, sign in desk etc.

Soap is an essential in bathrooms and kitchens/canteens and must be restocked regularly. No reusable hand towels should be used.

What should we do if the visiting team do not abide by social distancing measures?

In the first instance contact your Competition Administrator.

Can my team/club be sanctioned if we do not follow social distancing guidelines when not on the pitch?

If a Match Official or Club Report identifies there has been a blatant disregard of social distancing measures, your club may face sanctioning through the existing disciplinary procedures in place for your competition.

Can my club be sanctioned if our spectators are to be seen blatantly and repeatedly breaking social distancing rules?

If a Match Official or Club Report identifies there has been a blatant disregard of social distancing measures, your club may face sanctioning through the existing disciplinary procedures in place for your competition.

Where can I find club resources?

All resources for Clubs can be found at the Return to Play Portal. This includes:

– A Return to Play Summary
Printable Signage & Venue Signage
COVID-19 Safety Plan Templates
Social Media Resources

Who is responsible for cleaning public toilets and other external amenities?

The club should clean high use amenities regularly.

Placing cleaning equipment within these areas for individuals and teams to use may assist with the cleaning process.

Who do I contact if I have further queries?

Newcastle Football – gm@newcastlefootball.com.au
Hunter Valley Football – officemanager@huntervalleyfootball.net.au
Macquarie Football – gm@macquariefootball.com
Northern Inland Football – operations@northerninlandfootball.com.au
Football Far North Coast – general.manager@ffnc.net.au
North Coast Football – gm@northcoastfootball.com.au
Football Mid North Coast – gm@footballmidnorthcoast.com
NNSWF Premier Competitions (NPL / WPL / NL1) – competitions@northernnswfootball.com.au

Or submit a query to the Northern NSW Football Return to Play – Support Desk.






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