New Women's Changerooms Remain Empty With Delay To 2020 Season Start

Sunday, May 10, 2020 - 9:27 AM by Matt Ogg

It’s not often players are grateful for there to be a bye for the first game of the season, but it has come at the perfect time for the Swan Districts WAFLW side, amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

Fixtured with the week off in Round 1, the SDFC women’s team were due to run out at 2pm today, for their first game of the season, against Subiaco.

With the player’s jerseys hanging in the lockers of their newly built change rooms, the future is still uncertain as to when we will hear the women belting out the club song after a home win.

With restrictions easing slightly in WA, the coaches have been informed that their teams are now allowed to train in groups of 10, under strict guidelines.

WAFLW league coach Leith Woods has been spending her free time preparing skills and fitness plans, to ensure her team adheres to the parameters, and are ready to go as soon as they are given the green light.

‘The girls have been split up into groups of 10, and that group can’t change’ she said. ‘You have to stay with that group and not join in any others.’

‘Each group will get a bottle of hand sanitiser and we’ve been lucky enough to get some money to give them a football each.

‘They just need to make sure they wash their hands at the end of each session and disinfect the equipment used.’

It’s a big boost for the side and is sure to help bring a lot more motivation back into their training regimes.

‘They have been doing what they can do by undertaking their fitness with a family member or partner’ Leith said.

‘For the majority of our girls, football is a big part of their life. It’s a big void at the moment so to be able to potentially be back and the club and be around friends again is what they are looking forward to.’

It could be a very different looking team however, when the season commences. There remains a big question mark over whether the AFLW listed women will be able to pull on the black and white jumper, with tighter restrictions still affecting the Eastern states.

With discussions around the fairness of WA-based players being able to play, especially if the Eastern states are still in lockdown, it could propose opportunities for some women to fill the gaps from the Reserves and potentially Rogers Cup.

This equality for players across Australia also affects the training groups, with uncertainty that AFLW listed players are even allowed to participate in drills and fitness programs with their fellow team mates.

The unknown snowball effect could continue if the 2020 WAFLW season is pushed back. This would almost certainly clash with seeing them playing at WAFLW level, conflicting with their preseason at a professional level.

The under 18’s year would also then become an unknown.

Although it is not an ideal situation for the club, the Swans are in a better situation than other clubs including Peel Thunder, who may not be able to field a side this season, as a large majority of their players are currently listed with the Fremantle Dockers.

Not only is the COvid-19 pandemic affecting players representing their club in the WAFL, many of the women also play other sports at a high level.

‘I’d be in Sweden right now for our under-19 Floorball World Championship’ Leith states. ‘They’ve had to postpone it to September but I’m sceptical it will go ahead then also, as they aren’t doing too well over there.’

‘It’s the unknown which is the hardest thing to deal with.

‘Whether it’s footy or anything else, this is something we’ve never dealt with before.

‘We just have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks or so, but the whole team are hanging out for football to come back.’New