Community sport has been dealt a brutal reminder with COVID-19 having its biggest impact on a football-netball league since the sports returned after two heavily-interrupted years.
Ballarat was left unable to field a reserves football team and was forced to make seven changes to its seniors side for a top-of-the-table Ballarat Football Netball League clash against Melton after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases within the club.
The reserves match was cancelled and points shared between the two sides under guidelines crafted before the season began.
Any Ballarat Football Netball League game where one side is unable to field a team due to COVID-19 will be deemed cancelled, not forfeited, and two points will be awarded to both clubs.
No netball games were impacted with the Swans able to find enough players due to Melton only competing in three grades.
"We appreciate the Melton Football Netball Club and the BFNL working with us as we talked through this COVID-19 issue and wish our players a speedy recovery," the club shared on social media.
BFNL general manager Shane Anwyl said cancelling the game and sharing the points was the best outcome.
"The reasoning there is that is that it's not through any fault of the Ballarat Football Netball Club that this has happened," he said.
The Swans' outbreak comes as COVID-19 case numbers spike in Ballarat.
On Friday, 356 new cases were recorded, taking the total number of active cases to 1757.
It follows daily increases of 391 cases on Wednesday and 389 on Thursday.
"It's really important that people are vigilant about how they're feeling and if they do have any symptoms to stay home, get tested and follow government guidelines," Anwyl said.
"We don't want this to impact our competition or the rest of our community any more than we can avoid."
The cancellation of the reserves game is the first time a single football match in the BFNL has called off due to COVID-19 while the rest of the round proceeds.
Earlier this month, in the Central Highlands Football League, an under-18 match was abandoned after a club saw nine players enter isolation.
In the Central Highlands Netball League, Dunnstown had to forfeit its season-opening A Grade game against Buninyong after it was discovered on the morning of the game that only three of 10 players were available after COVID-19 spread through the club.
"We feel terrible for Buninyong that they had to sit out as well and not be able to get that hit-out...unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be the only club to have this happen to," Dunnstown coach Sally McKay said at the time.
Most Central Highlands football and netball leagues and Ballarat Football Netball League clubs have lost one-to-two players every week due to illness.
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