FOOTBALL'S long-awaited return to the Wimmera has been delayed once again.
The junior football and netball season featuring clubs from the Wimmera league, Horsham District league and Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara league was postponed on Monday night.
Clubs and league administrators agreed to delay the season until August 8 due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee's Jason Muldoon said the extra two weeks would provide further clarity to clubs and participants.
"The clear consensus was that we want to continue, but we're really cautious in the current environment," he said. "There was a lot of concern about the amount of people from outside our region that have been visiting in the last two weeks.
"The decision was made to postpone the season in order to better consider the figures, and see if there is any infections in our region from the people that have visited."
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Mr Muldoon said there was extra concern for Ararat and Stawell-based clubs due to their proximity to the Grampians. There was a significant amount of tourism in the region before Melbourne was sent back into lockdown last week.
Ararat Rats president David Hosking said the club was considering the risk.
"The big worry for us - and for Stawell too - is that most people that have been going to Halls Gap and to the Grampians are coming through our towns," he said.
"There have been a lot of people going through there, and they're not all from country Victoria.
"We've had to go back to our parents and players and ask them if they feel comfortable to keep going."
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Mr Muldoon said he thanked Ararat, Swifts, and the Stawell Warriors for their maturity in considering the issue.
Four clubs have already confirmed they will not participate in the competition: Edenhope-Apsley, Harrow-Balmoral, Taylors Lake and the Warrack Eagles.
Mr Muldoon said some other clubs were "cautiously waiting" to decide whether they would persist with a season.
"There's still clearly an appetite to do something for the kids, but there's some fear around the question, 'Are we doing the right thing?" he said.
"That is the main hold up. It's a genuine concern and it's a really difficult decision."
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