THE 2020 AFL Canberra season for the Batemans Bay Seahawks is over before they even had a chance to step foot on the field.
After having their first five of their matches forfeited by Canberra opponents due to COVID-19 concerns, their 2020 season was officially sidelined on Saturday, following an AFL Canberra meeting.
Seahawks president Heath Petterwood released a statement on the club's Facebook page.
"It is with a heavy heart that I wish to inform all our players, members, life members, supporters and sponsors that AFL Canberra have decided to cancel the 2020 season for all our senior sides," Petterwood, who's teams compete in the third and fourth grade community men's and second grade community women's AFL Canberra leagues, said.
"My aim as president this year was to build upon the foundations the previous president [Arlo Ireland] had laid and continue to build a bigger, better club.
"We have had a very challenging year with the recent bushfires in December/January that saw our players rally around our community and support in the bush fire clean-up.
"This was probably the biggest highlight of being a president - watching members get in and help out their community."
"In March, COVID-19 hit and postponed our competition and our future fundraising plans with the bushfires.
"I want to commend our playing group of both senior men's and women's for their continued commitment to our club, preparing to play and turning up week in, week out just to get on the field.
"COVID has continued to play a huge part in AFL Canberra making this decision and it certainly hasn't been made lightly.
"We have been in regular contact with AFL Canberra and have worked hard to ensure our players are safe and ready for any game.
"We can assure you that we will rebuild bigger, better and stronger for season 2021 in the Canberra competition."
Since making the announcement, feeder-club Gungahlin, as well as AFL Sapphire Coast's Pambula Panthers have offered to allow players to lace up the boots for their sides in 2020 on a permit basis.
"We'll continue to work with AFL Canberra, AFL South Coast and Sapphire Coast AFL, to find our players a game, if that is what they want this season," Petterwood, who thanked the committee for their constant support, said.
"We all know how important football is for our own wellbeing and the impact it has on every one of us, and as a club, we would never get in the way of a player looking for other opportunities for the remainder of this season.
"Moving forward, we are hoping to be able to provide our players with an AFL Nine's competition, which could start in October.
"As a president, this situation is something I never signed up for but glad I did as this club has nothing but its players, members, supporters and sponsors best interest is at heart."
In terms of the other competition implications, the AFL Canberra third and fourth grade community men's as well as the second grade community women's will be reset with the Seahawks withdrawn from the draw and ladder.
This means any club who has forfeited to Batemans Bay previously will have this game registered as a bye instead of a forfeit, which will be reflected in the competition ladder.
While all remaining scheduled games involving the Seahawks will also be registered as a bye for the purpose of the draw and competition ladder.
There will be no additional games added into the season, meaning two clubs will have byes on the same weekend in the third grade men's and second grade women's competitions, as well as the introduction of a bye into the fourth grade men's.
"If they choose, the two clubs with a bye in the third grade men's and second grade women's will be permitted to play in a scratch match, but this game will not contribute to the competition ladder," AFL NSW/ACT South Coast regional manager Matt Graham said.
AFL Canberra will work through updating this in the SportsTG system prior to the start of the next round of games.
As disappointed as both the AFL NSW/ACT and the Batemans Bay Seahawks are, the pair are already making plans for the latter's triumph return to the competition in 2021.
"The 2021 season will present new opportunities for the Batemans Bay and Seahawks AFL Canberra," AFL NSW/ACT community football partnerships and events lead Matt Irons said.
"They are both looking forward to working together toward on this, as well as any opportunities the off-season presents, to support a community that has been through a year like no other."