AJAX women’s footy team co-captain Justine Gabriel during a pre-season training session last month. Photo: Peter Haskin
PLAYERS and officials in the Maccabi Victoria community are understanding of the necessity of all grassroots sport coming to a grinding halt again for at least another six weeks due to the reintroduction of stage 3 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions across Melbourne from July 8.
But they’re certainly feeling the pain of their hopes of playing winter sport being dashed for a second time.
It all happened so quickly.
Up until midday on Tuesday, the only confirmed blow was the Victorian Amateur Football Association’s (VAFA) decision on July 2 to cancel all its senior footy competitions, effectively cancelling the 2020 footy season for AJAX’s men’s and women’s teams before it even started.
The club’s president Ronnie Lewis told The AJN on Monday it was a real shame, given the teams had trained hard for a shortened season that was pencilled in to start in the last week of July.
“To be honest, the VAFA’s decision was disappointing, but it was no surprise – and it was based on the health and safety implications for all involved in community footy,” Lewis said.
“It is tough for our players who have experienced the longest pre-season in history, particularly those who were due to play in their debut season, or maybe their last season.
“But our committee will meet soon to see what ways we can still keep our members engaged for the rest of this year.”
AJAX women’s team co-captain Justine Gabriel described the season’s cancellation as “very frustrating and disappointing, but understandable because it is in the interests of the wider community”.
“We trained hard and also gained a lot of young recruits, so hopefully they will stick with us,” Gabriel said.
“We’ll really miss the social side of things and just training and playing together – footy is such a good outlet for staying connected.”
By early Tuesday afternoon, all rescheduled senior and junior sport winter season start dates had to be rubbed out, and those competitions are now either effectively cancelled or on life support.
Youngsters at AJAX Junior Footy Club and Maccabi FC Caulfield had played practice matches less than a fortnight ago, and cruelly, were supposed to finally begin their seasons this weekend, and their colleagues at Maccabi Hockey Club the weekend after.
IT was freezing at floodlit Albert Park on June 3, but that didn’t bother AJAX’s women’s footy team.
The Jackettes – the 2019 VAFA Division 4 grand final runners-up – were just happy to be passing and kicking the Sherrin around together at their first group training session since the COVID-19 lockdown began.
Coach Joe Nankin said, “There was loads of enthusiasm … We’d made plans about how we’d attack this season – should it go ahead – but it was impossible to work on while we were training solo or in twos, so it’s incredible to be back out there.”
The team still don’t know when the 2020 season will start, but they are embracing being promoted up a division.
“That will be a challenge, but it will be interesting to see how we go at that level. We’re looking forward to it,” Nankin said.
Jackettes player Annelise Caplan handballing to teammate Nomi Blum. Photo: Peter Haskin
Jackettes at training
Return to Training
Based on the recent AFL Victoria & VAFA announcements endorsing a return to training, the Club is pleased to announce that we will be returning to training on Monday 1 June 2020.
While this is a positive step for the Club & our players, the training return will be based on strict modified rules and protocols that we are required to follow.
Our players will be limited to train in groups of 10 and will be non-contact training.
While the VAFA have have not made any decisions on a date for return to play, we are looking forward to further news in that regards within the coming few weeks. Until then, we are busy preparing our players to play and we will return to Albert Park week beginning Monday 1 June 2020.
There is no doubt that after the longes pre-season on record, we are all looking forward to the next phase of the 2020 season.
The Sunday after the AFL Grand Final in 2019, a group of young football players aged from 15-20 representing their communities, came together for the love of footy and respect and participated in a football match to assist promoting harmony and cohesiveness in their communities. Spearheaded by Jack Chrapot on behalf of the Henry Jolson Foundation and Bachar Houli for the Bachar Houli Academy - some 40 plus young players played on the hallowed turf at the MCG. A Muslim team and a Jewish team conducted themselves with respect, competitiveness throughout the match, embracing each other at the end of the friendly display game. It was a highlight for all players, spectators and attendees and a very special event. Our young Jewish players did us all proud. Thanks to Ronnie Lewis and the AJAX Senior Committee and Bashar Houli Academy representatives, as well as Tiffany Cherry and Robert Dieperdemenico.