Cats set to pounce

All six Western Border clubs should finally be able to play against one another again when the penultimate round of the 2021 season kicks off this Saturday.

It has been 47 days since the WBFL and WBNA enjoyed that luxury after COVID restrictions threw the fixture into chaos and left the heads of key figures in a spin.

However, a relaxation of restrictions permitting recreational or competitive sport between cross-border communities within the 70km corridor brings Casterton Sandford back into the picture.

Despite the round not being confirmed at the time of print, WBFL president Michael Summers was very confident of the West Gambier v Casterton Sandford battle taking place at Malseed Park this Saturday when he spoke with The SE Voice.

“Restrictions have eased now, so Casterton are able to come over to South Australia and play this weekend,” he said.

“The games can take place as long as they reside inside the bubble and have not been to greater Melbourne.”

The great news is a big win for everyone within the country football and netball community.

Even since Western Border football and netball competitions resumed on the first weekend of this month, only four clubs could get onto the park as Victoria continued to fight against the delta strain.

When Mount Gambier soaked up two football games at Vansittart and Blue Lake Sports parks in the rescheduled round 9, Casterton Sandford had no choice but to forfeit its game with the Roos.

The call gifted West with four valuable premiership points, while the Cats were stuck indoors.

At the stroke of midnight last Tuesday, regional Victoria was released from its sixth lockdown and Casterton Sandford felt on the path back to play.

Despite the Cats’ high hopes of hosting their seventh home game of the season against East Gambier last weekend, COVID-19 complications remained.

After various discussions and meetings were held last week, the WBFL decided to abandon the Cats and Dogs round 13 contest due to “COVID-19 issues with cross-border permits”.

Summers said the tough call was made due to concerns raised if cross-border communities mixed with others from outside the 70km corridor.

“It was due to the cross-border 70km bubble and people outside of that bubble,” he said.

Due to the abandonment being a WBFL call, both Casterton and East Gambier were awarded two premiership points each, while they received percentage figure from the other two games.

When the decision was announced last Thursday night, many on the Victorian side of the border were a touch confused and Cats representatives tried everything to keep the home game alive.

But their desperate efforts were to no avail as Casterton Sandford’s football and netball teams played inter-club games at Island Park instead on Saturday afternoon.

Summers said the WBFL board received a mixed response from the sporting community and hopes everyone can move on put the episode in the past.

“I would like to not go over old ground I suppose, there has been some tension and angst over decisions we have made,” he said.

“Hopefully that is all behind us and we can move on in the next two weeks and then onto finals.”

Scheduling has been a nightmare each week for the volunteers on the WBFL board giving up their time to steer football and netball through the pandemic.

But with all six clubs hopefully back in the frame and a tight finals series ahead, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the final chapter of a season like no other.

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