As a result of the COVID Pandemic, AFL NSW/ACT are disappointed to announce the decision to withdraw the Batemans Bay Seahawks from all competitions in the 2020 AFL Canberra Season, inclusive of the Third and Fourth Grade Community Men’s and the Second Grade Community Women’s, effective immediately.

This decision has been made after ongoing consultation with both the Batemans Bay Seahawks, and the other clubs in the AFL Canberra Community Competition. To date, and through no fault of their own, the Batemans Bay Seahawks have been unable to take the field of play.  This has been due to a string of opposition forfeits arising from COVID health and safety concerns, an approach that appeared unlikely to change for the remainder of the 2020 Season.

Batemans Bay as a town was incredibly unlucky to have a number of active cases in the area on the eve of the season, as well as a testing centre being established at the home ground of the Seahawks, Hanging Rock Oval. From there the club has been on the back foot dealing with the implications of the virus, including the government advice from both the NSW and ACT Government to limit travel to regional areas, and importantly health concerns of the ongoing pandemic for the general public at large.

“The Batemans Bay Seahawks, led by President Heath Petterwood, should be acknowledged and credited for the patience and the resilience they have shown during this incredibly frustrating time for their Club, particularly their Committee and Players”.

“2020 had been an incredibly tough time for their Community, with the summer bushfires, and then to be faced with this situation, has been a real test for club, but the way they have handled this challenge, through no fault of their own, has once again been really impressive”, Matt Graham, AFL NSW/ACT Regional Manager – South Coast.

The priority throughout this decision making process has been the safety of all players, club volunteers and their stakeholders. AFL NSW/ACT have prioritised this, as have the Seahawks, as part of all discussions over the past few weeks to come to this position. The Batemans Bay Seahawks recognise that this is the appropriate and responsible decision but look forward to what 2021 brings them in the AFL Canberra Competition, as well as opportunities to get their players a game for the rest of the 2020 Season.

“We have been in regular contact with AFL NSW/ACT, we appreciate their support and consideration during this time, especially in reaching this tough decision for the club to be withdrawn from the season. We can assure you that we will rebuild bigger, better and stronger for Season 2021 in the Canberra competition”.

“We’ll continue to work with AFL Canberra and AFL South Coast, to find our players a game, if that is what they want this season. 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”, Batemans Bay Seahawks President, Heath Petterwood.

AFL Canberra, along with AFL South Coast and AFL Sapphire Coast Leagues will work through the various considerations to incorporate any Batemans Bay Seahawks players into clubs for their 2020 Season, as part of the Local Interchange Permit System, which some players have already utilised this year. Each League will be updated as to how the movement of players will be managed using this system, to appropriately and fairly see these players participate this year, acknowledging that the Local Interchange Permits expire at the end of the season, with all players returning to the Batemans Bay Seahawks SportsTG database.

In terms of the other competition implications this naturally has a significant impact on the remaining fixture as well as the competition ladders. The Third and Fourth Grade Community Men’s as well as the Second Grade Community Women’s will be “reset” with the Batemans Bay Seahawks withdrawn from the fixture and ladder, meaning that any club who has forfeited to the Seahawks previously will have this game registered as a “Bye”, instead of a forfeit, which will be reflected in the competition ladder.

Whilst all remaining scheduled games that were to involve the Seahawks, will also be registered as a “Bye” for the purpose of the fixture and competition ladder. There will be no additional games added into the fixture, which means that 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 on 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 Canberra will work through updating this in the SportsTG system prior to the start of the next round of games.

AFL NSW/ACT and Batemans Bay Seahawks would like to highlight their disappointment that this decision has needed to be made. In the face of all things considered and the ongoing variables and uncertainties of the Covid Pandemic, it is the appropriate decision, considerate of all stakeholders and the integrity of the competition.

“The 2021 Season will present new opportunities for Batemans Bay and AFL Canberra, and both look 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”, Matt Irons, Community Football Partnerships and Events Lead – NSW/ACT.

For any questions regarding the above, please contact the below, as cc’d into this correspondence:

  • Heath Petterwood – President, Batemans Bay Seahawks
  • Matt Graham – AFL NSW/ACT Regional Manager – South Coast
  • Matt Irons – AFL NSW/ACT Community Football Partnerships and Events Lead