Player safety the goal on wet weekends as football cancelled

HAPPY AS A LION IN MUD: Orange City’s Harry Priest laps up the muddy conditions at Endeavour Oval on Sunday. Sadly for football kids, they didn't get the same opportunity to play over the weekend. Photo: MARK LOGAN                                 0727mlrugby10

HAPPY AS A LION IN MUD: Orange City’s Harry Priest laps up the muddy conditions at Endeavour Oval on Sunday. Sadly for football kids, they didn't get the same opportunity to play over the weekend. Photo: MARK LOGAN 0727mlrugby10

ORANGE and District Football Association president Tony Mileto has defended the decision to abandon the last two weeks of junior and senior football, saying player safety is paramount for the game.

For the second week running, poor weather on the eve of Saturday’s fixtures forced ODFA officials to cancel both senior and junior levels of the game at Sir Jack Brabham Park.

And the decision to do so has been met with not-so-subtle grievances by some members of the football community.

A father with two sons in the ODFA junior competition, Millthorpe’s Liam Brady sent the Central Western Daily a letter to the editor after the second week of canned junior football in Orange.

He said playing on wet, mud-sodden fields in the region was typical of any winter sport in the city.

“I would have thought that far more Australian kids are currently suffering from obesity and lack of physical activity than from injuries on wet sporting fields,” he wrote.

“Or are the constant cancellations to protect the pristine playing surface of Brabham? It is, after all, a sporting venue, not the Royal Botanic Gardens!”

The call to abandon the games was made by the ODFA in consultation with Orange City Council. 

Mr Mileto defended the action of erring on the side of caution when dealing with junior players’ safety.

“In our opinion, it was too dangerous and the conditions weren’t conducive to playing football,” Mr Mileto said, with inspections on the Jack Brabham playing surface made at 7am on Saturday mornings.

“With the situation last week, we had 15mm of rain, however, a drain backed up and the surface water in the area was too much.”

Mr Mileto said such decisions were based on the ground’s condition as well as safety and liability issues.

He admitted the drainage on the seven football fields at Brabham was “probably not where we’d like it to be”.

On the same weekend as junior rugby union gala days were being held at Endeavour Oval and Group 10 junior league rounds progressed mud and all, Mr Brady said football was being left behind.

“My two eldest sons sick of missing out signed-up for both league and rugby gala days; having a great time at both,” he added.

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