A NEW ruling by the Australian Football League NSW/ACT to require clubs to have an emergency response co-ordinator (ERC) to handle any situation that may arise on or off the field each game day will add pressure on already stretched volunteers.
The new ruling has come into force for both junior and senior competitions.
Shoalhaven Junior AFL co-ordinator Sharen Balazic said the new role was similar to game day controller or ground controller other codes had.
“The plan is for the ERC to handle any situation that may occur on or off the field on game day, be it organising an ambulance for injured players, or keeping people away from players that may be injured on the ground,” she said.
“In the past it may have been a parent on the sideline or a team manager but the AFL has decided that the person must now do a course and be qualified.
“As a league we were notified last year that this position was coming into effect at the start of this season, and now it is mandatory and games will not be able to go ahead without an ERC at the ground.
“I can see both sides of the argument. I understand that clubs and their volunteers are often stretched on game day and this is another requirement. I can also see the AFL’s stance on introducing such a position.
“It is a big ask to find someone to do the role all day – it is a matter of finding someone who is willing to be at the ground all day.
“I think it is harder for juniors as you may have a child in the 12s and not necessarily want to stay around for the 14s and 16s afterwards.
“I’m also involved with the Nowra senior club and I will also be looking to do the ERC course as well.”
One of the sticking points for clubs is the cost of the course, more than $100. The AFL is willing to pay a portion of that, the rest falls on the clubs.
“As I understand it, we still only need to have a first aider at the under 12 games but from 14-16 up we are required to have an ERC,” Mrs Balazic said.
“It is the responsibility of the home team to provide the ERC, but as long as there is an ERC at the ground, even from the opposition clubs, games can go ahead.”
With the junior season set to kick off April 7 it places another burden on already struggling club officials.
Courses were being conducted in Nowra last weekend and a further course is planned for Dapto next weekend.