19 August 2021

Canberra community sport in a state of uncertainty due to COVID-19 lockdown

| Tim Gavel
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Rugby union game in John I Dent Cup

Local competitions such as rugby union’s John I Dent Cup have been halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the ACT. Photo: John I Dent Cup Facebook.

The hidden cost to community sport in Canberra from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown is the mental health of many thousands of participants.

However, while there is little that can be done until the virus is under control, Canberra’s sporting organisations are doing all they can to provide a semblance of calm.

For many, there is the prospect of a winter sport season left in limbo as it collides with summer activities such as cricket.

All four football codes – rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules and soccer – are on the verge of finals so a shortened finals series is looming as a possibility.

The current lockdown isn’t scheduled to finish until 2 September, and a planned renovation of sports grounds was scheduled for two weeks from 17 September before summer sport takes over.

It leaves little time for Canberra’s football codes to complete their season.

Opposing players during game in NPL Women's Capital Football competition

The NPL Women’s Capital Football season has been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown in Canberra. Photo: NPL Women’s Capital Football.

The Coalition of Major Participation Sports ACT – which includes the four football codes, hockey, tennis, cricket, basketball and netball – have been looking at alternatives.

One option is to delay the sports ground renovations for a week to allow winter football codes to complete their seasons. Beyond that, it seems highly improbable that winter sports will be completed.

Last year, the truncated season enabled each code to complete an entire competition amid the pandemic. This time around it is far more problematic given the timing of the lockdown just before the finals.

Junior rugby union in Canberra has already announced its season won’t be continuing.

Speaking to a number of sports organisations and clubs, it is obvious they are doing the best they can under the circumstances to keep participants informed and engaged.

Many are taking part in online group activities to ensure mental health is being addressed.

For many sports, there looms the prospect of an incomplete and premature end to the winter season.

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