The 2022 winter football season will be extended for many competitions due to ongoing weather conditions under plans released today by North Coast Football.
Unprecedented weather conditions on the Coffs Coast and in the Clarence Valley have saturated many fields, forcing councils and clubs to close grounds and postpone matches.
Despite periods of sunshine, fields remain saturated as they deal with a year’s worth of rain in the first four months of the year. More heavy rain is expected over the next week.
The football season, for most, was due to commence at the start of April. The beginning was then put back to after Easter. Since then, some divisions have played, but many matches have been postponed. Some teams are yet to play because of ground conditions.
Football is the biggest winter sport on the NSW north coast, with more participants than all other winter ball sports combined.
North Coast Football (NCF) has been working with councils and its 24 clubs on the Coffs Coast and in the Clarence Valley to deliver a season with as many matches as possible. Similar changes were required in 2020 due to delays caused by the global pandemic.
Under the plan released by NCF today:
- Competitive (12 and up) regular-season competitions will conclude in mid-September, three weeks later than planned. The September school holidays will be observed (no scheduled matches), and the finalists will return for the playoffs in October. Grand finals will occur on either 21, 22 or 23 October 2022.
- MiniRoos (11 and under) will conclude in mid-September, making up three weeks of lost football. NCF is also examining the staging of gala days to deliver additional opportunities to teams.
- Coastal League One Women (inter-zone first grade women’s competition) will continue as usual, and finals will occur in September or October, depending on field availability and the season’s progress.
- Coastal Premier League Men (inter-zone first and reserve grades men’s competitions) has commenced, and a decision will be made in the next week on whether to stay with the current schedule or extend into October.
- Draws for all competitions are current only until the end of June and will be reframed for July, August and September to take into account required changes.
Last weekend, 90 per cent of grounds were closed and 98 per cent of matches postponed. Fields are closed by councils and clubs primarily due to the risks to player safety. Fields can also suffer long term damage from use when soggy. A saturated playing surface can also render a field not up to an acceptable standard for play and or competition.
In Coffs Harbour, some clubs and competitions have taken advantage of the new synthetic pitches at the Coffs Football Centre. Matches played on the synthetics primarily have been Coastal Premier League Men, Coastal League One Women and Australia Cup.
NCF is also approaching Councils to provide financial relief to clubs that have lost revenue and fundraising opportunities due to the weather conditions and field closures.
Comments by Andrew Woodward, General Manager, North Coast Football
There’s a lot of disappointment and frustration, but we’re determined to play as much football as possible. We did it in 2020 with the pandemic, and we’ll do it again in 2022.
We know players, teams and match officials are itching to get on the pitch and get some momentum. Clubs and councils are working hard to get pitches ready, and NCF is doing what it can to move matches around and adjust competitions.
We ask everyone to be patient as we navigate the unprecedented weather and its significant impacts.
Our number one priority is to play as much football as possible and deliver maximum value to all participants.