Editorial: Underway & it’s great to be back

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Brett Connell – VAFA CEO

Well done one and all – we got Round 1 away.

After the longest pre-season on record, we finally got VAFA footy back last weekend and a huge congratulations and thank you to the entire community for all of your efforts.

Firstly, we put our hand up and own the fact that umpire allocations and communication with clubs was not where it needed to be last weekend. While we all experienced a crazy run into Round 1 with shortened weeks before and after Easter, we definitely can do better to support our clubs.

By way of explanation, our umpire numbers were down due to the school holidays which stretched already scarce umpire resources, and the shortened week meant umpire appointments were somewhat delayed. That delay impacted our communication to clubs which in turn added to the already burgeoning workload of our club volunteers – not ideal, certainly not planned and we do apologise.

There are further complexities related to the appointment of umpires across all levels of our men’s and women’s competition. A matter which has been thoroughly reviewed ahead of this weekend’s matches across the competition and which will be addressed as a matter of priority across the next month.

What we assure the VAFA community is that our communication to clubs will be far timelier and the equity of appointments will remain a focus.

As we settle into the season proper it is opportune to further advise of a couple of important initiatives in place for this season.

The VAFA Alcohol Policy has been reviewed and revised allowing for (2) major shifts (refer VAFA website for the full policy)

  1. Club matchday functions can now operate from midday until the end of half-time, in addition clubs can make application for (2) extended functions which will allow for functions to run beyond half-time of the main game.
  2. Clubs can also now provide the opportunity for reserve grade players to enjoy an aftermatch function with the opposing team in their social rooms

Let’s be really clear on the above changes and shift of policy conditions, the VAFA is not encouraging drinking in the outer or around grounds at VAFA matches, what we are doing is providing the opportunity to enjoy luncheons, functions and aftermatches within an extended timeframe and in a controlled environment – in the main to keep our communities together.

Concussion has been a hot topic in recent times, and rightly so. The revised VAFA Concussion Policy is available on the VAFA website and is an updated version from the National Community policy which has been in place since 2017.

Obviously, the main focus is around the time required for players to spend time out of the game should they experience a concussion or related symptoms – namely (12) days, with the focus being on players to seek expert medical opinion in relation to the diagnosis and assessment of the injury.

Clubs have also been advised to keep thorough records of concussions within their club. This will enable the VAFA to conduct their own assessment of the prevalence of concussions in our game, so as to guide us in player welfare strategies and potential rule changes in the future – all in the interests of player welfare.

The VAFA have also teamed up with Monash University to support concussion research at community level. Already a number of our clubs have taken up the opportunity to part of this leading study which aims is to establish exactly how blood tests can be used to take some of the guesswork out of concussion management. We thank the University Blacks FC for initial research into this important area of player welfare.

Plenty of exciting weeks ahead – enjoy Round 2.

See you @ the Footy

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