No grandparents and only one parent allowed

Families told to stay away in potential return to community sport

Tumba-Batlow players Zoe Tokarei and Madeleine Speering attempting to chase down a Roos attacker last season.

Supporters will be few and far between this sport’s season, after the federal government’s leading sport’s agency, Sport Australia, unveiled new guidelines on Sunday for the return of community sport across the country.

These guidelines, which will be implemented at all levels of community sport, ban grandparents from attending and permit only one parent to each game, preferably from the comfort of their own car if possible.

The strict protocol also put a stop to high-fives, handshakes and huddles, and any non-essential contact, while change rooms will be closed and kids will have to shower and change at home.

In one of the biggest changes, clubs and associations will also need to appoint a Covid-19 safety coordinator to liaise with other clubs and peak bodies, during the four stages of a return to sport, outlined in the Page 11 article, “Four stages of return to community sport.”

Sport Australia acting CEO, Rob Dalton, said the new rules in the return to sport toolkit are primarily aimed at supporting the safe resumption of community sport, with many clubs and associations reliant on a dedicated workforce of volunteers.

“The main thing I want to emphasise to all sport and participants is that public health is the most important consideration – advice from your government health authorities is paramount,” Dalton said.

Dalton stressed the important of clubs and associations liaising with their governing bodies and councils before any quick-fire return, reminding participants that their health and safety was the number one concern.

“I urge all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant state and territory government health authorities,” Dalton said.

“Australia’s sporting community is desperately keen to get back in the game and resume playing the sports they love, but we need to ensure that is done in a safe, responsible and low risk manner so that we can keep moving forward towards the full resumption of sport.”

Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck, backed up Dalton’s comments, suggesting that it was down to the participants now that these guidelines had been implemented.

“Sporting clubs and organisations across Australia will play an enormous part in getting the nation back on track as we recover from the impact of Covid-19,” Colbeck said.

“The safe return of competition relies on a responsible rollout where everybody follows advice and takes precautions.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us – but together the national principles, the AIS framework and Sport Australia’s toolkit offer tangible advice to ensure community sporting groups are prepared to control and deal with the virus in this new era.”

Group 9 junior rugby league president Bernie Delaney said that no news of the proposed changes had filtered down to his level from NSWRL.

 “I haven’t had any consultation with NSWRL whatsoever, we have hopefully put a plan in operation to start up on July 18, with training returning July 1, but that is still up in the air,” Delaney said.

“We haven’t got any real protocol with how we can go forward at this stage and I don’t know what we will have.

“If have one but that will eventually come from NSWRL if we do go ahead.

Tumbarumba Batlow Minor League president Derek Smith said it was too early to tell how the changes would impact the club but was hopeful someone would put their hand up to take on the Covid-19 officer role.

“I guess we will find someone. It’ll be me if no one else,” Smith said.

“We will need some further clarification around parents/grandparents. Some families (including my own) have both parents serving as volunteers with our club have both parents volunteering.”

Smith did see the announcement as a good thing for the club and the Group 9 junior competition though, and hoped to be able to shed more light on the evolving situation after a club meeting tomorrow night.

“It’s a way forward, so that’s got to be a good thing. We will approach council in the coming weeks, after our committee meets on Thursday,” Smith said.