SEVERAL clubs will join forces to field combined junior football and netball teams in a COVID-19 affected competition this year.
The full fixture for the season was released on Tuesday, with 15 teams registered to participate in an eight-week junior competition.
Three teams will be combined from two clubs, with the Southern Mallee Giants and Jeparit-Rainbow, Warrack Eagles and Rupanyup, and Kaniva-Leeor United and Nhill joining forces to enter teams.
Horsham District league clubs Taylors Lake, Harrow-Balmoral and Edenhope-Apsley will not participate.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee area manager Jason Muldoon said the possibility of Swifts and Great Western combining for junior netball was also being explored, as Swifts were unable to field junior netball sides.
The modified season features three grades of junior netball, two of junior football, and is scheduled to begin on July 25, with no finals.
Mr Muldoon said the plan and fixture was also dependent on state government restrictions allowing sport to be played.
Mr Muldoon insisted clubs focus on the importance of participation for the season, rather than winning.
Taylors Lake president Tammy McDonald said uncertainty around the spike of coronavirus cases in Victoria and the burden on volunteers were the main reasons the club did not register a team.
"It was a very tough decision the committee made," she said.
"Our numbers were quite low in the end. A lot of parents were not wanting their children to play (for health reasons).
"I know we could have been merged with another side, but the strain that it would've put on the volunteers was also very difficult to manage.
"There are kids going to play for other clubs in this competition, and we're happy for that. It was ultimately the right decision for us to withdraw."
A new "COVID clearance" was introduced this year to facilitate players transferring to other clubs for just one season.
Nhill and District Sporting Club president Ash Dickinson was pleased to be able to combine forces with Kaniva-Leeor United to get teams participating.
He said the combination lessened concerns about playing numbers and lightened the burden on volunteers.
Mr Dickinson said players and parents would now have to adapt quickly to a new system.
"It's going to be a bit of a shared responsibility," he said.
"It's going to be different, with the kids just turning up, playing, then going home again.
"It would just be good to see our kids back out there.
"There's still some work to be done ... but we're working through it and hopefully we can see them out there on July 25th."
Mr Dickinson said the club would also try to have some combined training sessions with Kaniva-Leeor United.
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