Kyneton forced into forfeit

Harrison Huntley of the Kyneton Tigers. (Shawn Smits)

Oliver Lees

Kyneton was forced to forfeit its senior football matches in the Bendigo Football League over the weekend, as a large number of its players remained unavailable for selection.

On August 10, the BFL announced the restart of their season after lockdown restrictions were eased across regional Victoria.

Elsewhere in the region the Riddell District Football League delayed its season restart due to its mixture of regional and metro clubs.

Tigers president Hayden Evans said he had no choice but to forfeit the senior men’s and reserves games as many of Kyneton’s players live in metropolitan areas.

“It was a very tricky decision to make and it wasn’t rushed, we took a couple nights to make the call,” Evans said.

“In the end it was a mix of players, coaches and executives basing our decision on the legalities at the time.”

In June, the Tigers loaned five players from Woodend Heskett when lockdown restrictions split the state in similar fashion.

But this time around, with 20 unavailable players, Evans said the only avenue other than forfeit was to field a large number of players from their under-18’s side to fill the gaps.

“At that stage it becomes a safety concern for our kids and we weren’t willing to take the risk,” he said.

“It’s obviously been a difficult year for everyone, including the league. It’s impossible to be able to plan and monitor what’s going on, but we need to make decisions that are in the best interest of our people.

“Now our focus is trying to draw as much positive as possible from the negative.”

The Tigers were able to field both two netball games and their under-18 boys football.

Given the disruption to the senior football, senior coach and former Geelong Cats premiership star Paul Chapman stepped up to coach the under-18’s team, whose coach wasn’t available for the game.

Kyneton’s inclusive football team has also had to suspend their season with just one match remaining.

The Tigers made history earlier this year when they became the first club in the Macedon Ranges to field a side in the Victorian Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) competition.

Evans said he was still hopeful for all of the club to return to competition before the year’s end.

“There wouldn’t be a club in Victoria that is traveling better than us at the moment, but we just can’t seem to catch a break with restrictions,” Evans said.

“The FIDA team has had a great year in their first season and I know they’re all looking forward to next year as well.

“We recently held our club raffle which was a huge success, we sold all our tickets.

I’m just looking forward to that one day at our home ground again when we can get all our players from the different teams to get together again.”