SHOALHAVEN District Football Association players will have to wait until the end of May to take the field in 2020, after Football Federation Australia's announcement on Wednesday.
The FFA advised, in light of ongoing developments since its original announcement and the stricter measures imposed by the federal government in response to COVID-19, the temporary suspension to sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training would remain in place until at least May 31, 2020.
The decision, which also impacts teams like the Wollongong Wolves and South Coast Flame, is another in a series of measures taken by FFA in response to COVID-19 in consultation with its state and territory member federations and the national COVID-19 working committee.
"Since our initial announcement, there have been numerous declarations made by, and introduced, across all levels of government," FFA chief executive officer James Johnson said.
"The measures have continuously tightened restrictions around community gatherings, and the measures announced by the Prime Minister recently increased these restrictions further.
"While we were not due to make a formal assessment until April 14, 2020, we felt it best to consider our position now in light of this most recent announcement.
"We have determined, with the full backing of all member federations, that the temporary suspension to sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training will remain in place until at least May 31, 2020.
"We will continue to stay in close communications with our member federations in the lead up to May 31, to ensure that the individual circumstances of each state and territory in relation to the status of COVID-19 and the measures or restrictions imposed by individual state/territory governments are being considered.
"These are unprecedented times and at this moment, it is very difficult to predict what further measures will be introduced, or for how much longer current measures will be in place.
"As we have done with all our decisions to date, we will remain agile and responsive to the prevailing circumstances and still remain optimistic that our member federations, which are already considering what adjusted competitions will look like, will be able to complete the grassroots season this year.
"Any decision to resume grassroots football will be made in line with the federal government, taking into account the latest health advice at the time to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the football and wider community, and in full consultation with our member federations and the national COVID-19 working committee.
"The safety of the football community remains our priority.
"We recognise that our participants across the country are eager to understand what all of this means for them so we hope that the announcement today can give them some peace of mind and we ask that they remain positive during these difficult times.
"As a sport, we must continue to undertake our civic duty as a responsible citizen and do everything we can to contribute to the national efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
"Football people are resilient, have a strong moral compass and, consequently, I am sure our community will understand this position."
FFA will continue to communicate material updates in the lead up to May 31, 2020.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.