Game has changed as River Murray footy clubs resume training amid COVID-19

Ramblers and Jervois were among the first clubs to get back on the park this week.

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Dewy grass, chilly air, moths fluttering around floodlights: all the elements of an ordinary footy training session were there at Le Messurier Oval on Thursday night.

But the players lined up 1.5 metres apart as they prepared for a few laps of the oval, and did so in groups of 10 or less at a time.

The changes were minor but noticeable as Ramblers became one of the first River Murray Football League clubs to return to training this week.

The state government relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions for community sporting clubs on Monday.

Some of the Roosters' senior players gathered for the first time on Tuesday night to complete kicking, handballing, marking and general fitness drills.

Bans on tackling and other physical contact are still in effect, changerooms are off-limits and social distancing must be observed.

But coach coordinator Martin Altmann said it was still good to be back.

"From a social point of view ... the players were really pleased to get back on the park, even though it rained most of the time," he said.

"The camaraderie was good.

"For the players, these are their best friends, they haven't been able to see each other for a while, and it's important for their physical and mental health."

All sporting clubs would have to observe the rules set down by the state government to stop the spread of the coronavirus, he said – and the GP would know better than most.

But clubs also needed to show the government that they could be trusted, he said.

"If we get involved in every level (as restrictions ease), that shows the decision-makers we can do what they want us to," he said.

Club president Richard Hein said the question of whether the RMFL would eventually play a shortened season was still up in the air.

In that light, the club will not pay any players or coaches this season.

"Financially, the clubs are all struggling," he said.

"We've got to get through this year and get into next year."

Around the grounds

Most other clubs are taking a wait-and-see approach, but a few Jervois footballers also got back on the park this week.

President Russell Jarvis said he didn't know whether there would even be a 2020 RMFL season, but that the club had given players the option anyway.

"It's not compulsory – it's only the players who want to come out and train," he said.

"A few people have said at this stage they're not confident about coming out and training."

The club had no hesitation about letting individuals make their own decisions, he said.

However, he emphasised that spectators could not be permitted under any circumstances.

The restrictions involved "a fair bit of mucking around", he said, but were the only way to go.

"You're used to ... people tapping each other on the back and high fiving, and it looked a bit odd not doing that," he said.

"But whether that's the new normal or not, maybe we've got to get used to it."

SANFL return to training level B restrictions

The following restrictions apply for South Australian community football clubs from May 18:

  • A maximum of 10 players per session, plus officials, applies – "get in, train, get out"

  • No physical contact is allowed

  • Social distancing rules of 1.5 metres between people, and four square metres per person, apply

  • Clubrooms, changerooms and wet areas are off limits

  • Only footballs and cones can be used – no bump bags, weights and so on

  • Clubs must keep a log of all participants for contact tracing purposes

Good hygiene must also be observed: hands and equipment must be sanitised, water bottles and towels cannot be shared, and spitting, high-fives and massages are off.

What about your club or sport?

How is your club or association dealing with the COVID-19 restrictions, and how will they affect you over the coming months?

Photos: Peri Strathearn.