The AFL’s Tommy Dutton has been touring central Australia spreading the word: footy is back.
The Central Australia Football League recommences in town from today and community games kick off this Sunday.
“I’ve been telling people how to stay safe, letting them know that they can play again,” he said.
He visited Santa Teresa, Titjikala, Yuendumu, Atijira, Laramba and Ti Tree.
“Everyone is so excited to get back out there.”
New safety protocols
Mr Dutton said there were a few key rules that teams should observe.
“What the club needs to do is nominate someone in the community to be their COVID safety officer, and that person’s just in charge of making sure the players observe the new rules,” he said.
“Every player needs to have their own water bottle when they come in.
“And there’s your basic hygiene — plenty of hand sanitiser will be around at Traeger Park and at Albrecht — [and] making sure everybody is using them.”
He said there were additional rules for fans: “Make sure you are observing social distancing in the stands.”
“Don’t congregate around the team huddles when they’re playing,” he said.
He said teams had been understanding.
“Its obviously a bit confusing when its a totally brand new world for everybody [but] there’s been no silly questions,” he said.
One complication had been making sure safety messages had been translated into different language groups.
“Of the 12 teams, there’s five or six language groups so we are getting signs translated so that when they come in its in their language as well,” he said.
Two finals divisions
Mr Dutton said there would also be changes this year to how the competition was run, but not because of coronavirus.
“Lots of the community have wanted, particularly the smaller communities, have wanted to be able to play against larger ones,” he said.
“But to make it fair, once everyone has played their nine rounds, we will have the top six teams playing in a division one finals, and then the bottom six playing in a division two finals,” he said.