The AFL has today confirmed that the final game of the 2021 NAB AFLW U19 Championships between Queensland and Victoria Metro will not proceed as a result of the evolving COVID-19 situation across the country.
The final game was scheduled to be played on the Gold Coast on Saturday July 10 after Queensland was unable to travel to Victoria in April to play their Championship games due to COVID-19. The challenges surrounding border closures and community lockdowns has made it difficult to proceed with this game with effective planning.
The players, coaches and officials need to be best prepared to play football and the ability to be flexible in the current environment is difficult. The AFL has worked through every available scenario to complete this final match but the environment provided too great a challenge for the match to be played.
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State League Finals in Women's leagues in Victoria and Queensland have commenced, and the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft Combine is set to be held on Sunday July 18, leaving no available days to play this match ahead of the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft.
AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the decision was made today following extensive consultation with stakeholders.
"We acknowledge this is extremely disappointing news for the players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans of the NAB AFLW U19 Championships and we applaud the efforts of everyone involved that has worked tirelessly to try and find a way through," Salter said.
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"The Championships provide an opportunity for the best talent in the women's game to showcase their skills and continue their football journey and although disappointed we cannot complete the final match this year, we've seen nine incredible matches of football and the talent on show highlights that the women’s game is in great shape.
“We will continue to support all players from Victoria Metro and Queensland with their talent profiles ahead of the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft and in their football journey beyond.”
The 2021 NAB AFLW All-Australian Team and NAB Player of the Championships will be announced in the coming days. Queensland and Victoria Metro will also announce their NAB MVP Awards.
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The first game of the 2021 NAB AFL U19 Championships scheduled to be played on the Gold Coast on Saturday July 10 between the Allies and Victoria Metro will also not proceed as planned.
The AFL is exploring alternative fixture arrangements for the two teams to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.
The AFL remains committed to playing these games and will explore all possible arrangements to ensure talent are provided with the opportunity to play representative football for their state and territory. All boys will return to their State League, school or regional competitions this weekend.
At this stage, South Australia are scheduled to host the Allies on Saturday July 24 to kick-off the NAB AFL U19 Championships.
While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, the health and welfare of our players and the community remains the priority and all matches will operate in a safe manner anchored in the advice of respective governments, public health officials and medical experts. Given the underage nature of these Championships, the AFL will adopt a cautious approach when scheduling games noting the implications on education and network support for players.