AAP/PA Images Orla O'Dwyer of the Brisbane Lions.
Pushed Back

Start of AFLW season delayed as Covid-19 cases rise in Australia

The season had been due to kick-off in December.

THE START OF the new AFLW season has been pushed back to January 2022, as Covid-19 cases continue to soar in Australia.

Earlier today, Australia reported more than 1,000 new local coronavirus cases for the first time during the pandemic.

And with cases rising in the country, the AFL, together with the AFL Players’ Association, has confirmed that the 2022 AFLW competition will now commence on the weekend of 6-9 January 2022, rather than then previously scheduled December start date.

An AFL statement said the move is aimed at “maintaining the priority of protecting the health and safety of the competition and the wider community.”

Nicole Livengtone, the AFL’s general manager for women’s football, said: “The 2021 season was the most challenging yet due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic affecting all but two rounds of the Competition.

“As we prepare for season six, we know the nature of playing professional sport in a pandemic means we will continue to be presented with challenges in the lead up to and during the season and, as a result, have made the decision for the NAB AFLW Competition to commence in January next year.

“We will continue to listen to and work closely with the players and their clubs to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.

“We openly acknowledge there are unique challenges and recognise the non-football commitments of both AFLW players and staff and through this open dialogue we know the AFLW community is absolutely determined to work through them to achieve another ground-breaking season.

“The health and welfare of those in our game and the wider community remains the priority and we remain committed to commencing and completing the 2022 NAB AFLW season in a safe manner led by respective governments and public health officials.”

Lockdowns in the country have also delayed the start of pre-season training, with a number of Irish players yet to travel to Australia to begin preparations for the new season.

AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said: “The AFLPA and players understand the challenges that Covid is currently presenting to society and our industry.

“The decision to push back the start of the season is a sensible one in the current circumstances and has been worked through with AFLW player leaders.

“The players’ ongoing flexibility is to be commended and we appreciate the AFL’s willingness to in turn work with us to recognise the impact of these changes on the players’ non-football lives in the agreement we have reached with them.”

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