Northern NSW Football has confirmed all premier Hunter competitions, including the Women’s Premier League, have been suspended until April 14 due to the coronavirus. All clubs have also been ordered to cancel associated training plans.
The suspension of the 2020 season, which the WPL is already two rounds into, comes after the FFA’s statement late on Tuesday. After declaring on Monday the grassroots game would “play on,” the governing body reversed their decision 24 hours later.
The FFA convened an emergency meeting of the national COVID-19 working committee, as well as presidents from all state federations, to discuss the response to coronavirus. The result of that meeting was the now-announced suspension.
According to NNSWF, who shared the information with media ahead of the official release, the decision to put the brakes on the underway season was made with “consideration and having regard to the feedback received from the grassroots community.”
“NNSWF met with its seven 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,” Tuesday’s official statement continues.
“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.”
This delay means new club Broadmeadow has yet to play a game in their first season back in the top-flight women’s league. The club was to begin their campaign on Tuesday night against Warners Bay, but that match at Magic Park has already been cancelled.
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FFA chief James Johnson said it was “very regrettable” grassroots football had to be put on hold for the next month, but said it was the most “responsible” move considering there are more than 1.96 million football participants across Australia.
“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 on Tuesday.
“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.
“We are meeting on a daily basis and will continue to do so, taking into account the latest Government medical advice and community sentiment. FFA will continue to communicate new developments in the lead-up to 14 April 2020.”