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Howzat: Saturday, July 18 local sport’s independence day

If you love sport and have your fingers crossed that the sound of grassroots footy will once again be heard in parks and ovals across outer South West Sydney, mark Saturday, July 18 in your calendar.

They key to when local rugby league, soccer, AFL and rugby union competitions resume is the NSW Public Health (Covid-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020.

This order is currently preventing any sport from being conducted until midnight on June 29.

Accordingly the winter codes are all starting to prepare for a possible return to the field about two weeks after that – unless of course the Covid-19 pandemic returns for a second wave of infections.

Salv Carmusciano, the general manager of Macarthur Football Association told the South West Voice that local competitions, including the popular M-League, remain suspended until at least May 31.

“We have several plans in place if and when the season can finally get under way,’’ he said.

“Conversations with our parent body are regular.’’

Stuart Farnell, the president of the Camden Cats AFL club says they’re in the same boat, with the 2020 season postponed until May 31.

“The focus for the AFL at the moment is getting a timeframe decided and communicated for the professional clubs and players; then they will worry about lower level leagues and community football,’’ Mr Farnell said.

“From an AFL Sydney perspective, my gut feeling is that they will be trying to get half a season plus finals completed.

 “A half season would be nine rounds so that all first grade sides play each other once. I think that that is the best case scenario at this point in time.

“Fingers crossed we see some action this year.’’

Mr Farnell said that from a Camden Cats club perspective, everyone is missing footy.

“Our players are remaining positive and busy during this time maintaining their fitness,’’ he said.

“We are using the Strava running app to track fitness and for players to encourage each other to stay active.

 “We have also been using Zoom to stay focused on mental health by keeping players connected.’’

Mr Farnell made the important point, which would apply to all winter codes, that getting a resumption date pencilled in would improve moral immensely.

“Isolation can be difficult for many who miss the weekly opportunities that community sport provide to connect with other people,’’ he said.

“So the focus of myself and the Camden Cats committee has been on ensuring all of our players, coaches, sponsors, support staff are doing OK physically and mentally and facilitating opportunities for everyone to stay connected (even if it’s virtually).’’

The NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) board has established a plan to work towards a re-start of competitions from July to coincide with a common return date for some other winter sports across the state and the commencement of term 3 in the school year.

NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said the board was working towards a shortened community rugby league season for competitions such as the Sydney Shield and Group Six.

He said a July 18 start date will be further reviewed and hopefully confirmed on June 1.

“The earliest possible return date is June 30, unless the NSW Government decides to lift the Public Health Order earlier,” Trodden said.

“Most winter sports favour working towards a return date of July 18, at the end of the next school holiday period, with a return to training on July 1.

“We will only return to playing footy when it is deemed safe to do so.’’

South West Sydney Academy of Sport chief executive Gerry Knights said they were also planning for a return after June 29.

“We will be ready to go when we get the OK,’’ he said.

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