The 2020 season was shaping up to be an exciting one for the Unley Jets Football Club, capped off by its 50th anniversary, until disappointment struck with the postponement of the season due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
The extent of the fallout of the delayed season on amateur football clubs is still unknown, but, for the Unley Jets Football Club, they have had to postpone their 50th anniversary celebration until next year.
This has caused frustration for the club’s supporters, who were looking forward to celebrating the milestone, Unley Jets president David Heaslip said.
“It’s a disappointment that we haven’t been able to hold our 50th anniversary events,” he said.
“It has caused a bit of disruption for people interstate who planned to come over and celebrate.”
Adding to the frustration is that this year marked the Jet’s promotion to Division 1 football following a successful 2019 campaign.
“I was looking forward to that challenge so that was disappointing from that point of view”, Mr Heaslip said.
Mr Heaslip acknowledged that the hardest part of the season postponement was the loss of community interaction.
“I really enjoy the community aspect of local football where everyone pitches in together,” he said. “It’s disappointing not to get the people contact.”
While June 13 had been the targeted date for the season to resume, John Kernahan CEO of the Adelaide Football league admitted: “We’re certainly not in a position to suggest that date is locked.”
“Our first and foremost priority is ensuring we are complying to the standards being set by health authorities for the community at large,” he said.
“We’re in the hands of SA Health.”
The true impact on clubs is not yet known, with the amateur league relying on federal and state stimulus packages which will play a significant role in ensuring the recommencement of the league with as little impact as possible.
The Mitcham Council has assisted with decreasing the financial burden on the Jets by waiving fees for sports clubs in their districts.
This, combined with the majority of the Jets expenses being associated with game days, puts the club in an advantageous place financially.
Another positive for the club is the proposed re-development of the Jets’ clubrooms is looking more likely according to Mr Heaslip.
“The current situation may actually help us since the council is looking for some projects to create employment,” he said.
Mr Heaslip said that project was “pretty close to being shovel ready” but the Jets still require grant approvals and the passing of any required development regulations.
The Unley Jets are excited to return to some normality once the season begins and making the most of their 50th year.
This story was produced as part of a first year Journalism unit at Deakin University.