NOW, in what would have been the peak of the region's sporting finals, Central Highlands Football League is urging everyone to give a mate a call.
Today would have been CHFL grand final day and, while there is a chance the league could still pull off finals action early next month, the region has been starved of community sport for almost two months.
CHFL, in partnership with Bendigo and Rural banks, has launched a Give A Mate A Call campaign in a movement aimed to extend well beyond CHFL ranks.
CHFL president Doug Hobson said this was about creating positive change and care in the wider community. He said the football community was like a large family and an act like starting a conversation could have greater, far-reaching flow-on effects.
The league is calling on everyone to call someone you had not seen in awhile, whether it be from football or other aspects of your life.
"We've got a lot of different clubs and we love a rivalry but we love helping each other," Mr Hobson said.
"It can be hard to ascertain how someone is feeling but even talking to them for 10 minutes can help gauge how they're viewing life at that time - give a mate a call."
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Mr Hobson said the league had been looking for ways to help boost connections in trying times. He said football-netball clubs were often the main social outlet for many people, including juniors who were facing challenges in home schooling.
"We're human beings, we love interactions," Mr Hobson said. "Football is about more than sport - it's about interactions for a lot of us. Football can put you in a good headspace, even if your team has lost, just by the interactions you can have at the game and we haven't been able to have this.
"...Just think about someone you haven't seen in awhile, it can really help people and it's a particularly good thing to do at the moment."
Football is about more than sport - it's about interactions for a lot of us...Just think about someone you haven't seen in awhile, it can really help people and it's a particularly good thing to do at the moment.Doug Hobson, CHFL president
This comes as restrictions ease in regional Victoria and, while organised sport remains sidelined, limited outdoor team training can resume.
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