We hope you are all safe, healthy and looking forward to footy and the Hawks returning soon.
After what seems like an eternity, we are incredibly excited to at last be writing to you with confirmation of the AFL’s plans to recommence the 2020 season.
Today the AFL announced that from Monday onwards, clubs will be able to return to modified training, with a view to recommencing the season on Thursday June 11th.
A return to training will be very different from how things previously looked. In the first instance, we will be limited to no more than eight players, plus a coach involved in an individual training session. These sessions must also be non-contact until at least May 25th.
Our players will return to training at Waverley Park in small, assigned groups who will complete their sessions at staggered start times to ensure there is no crossover between the various groups.
Another condition of returning to training, and eventually games, has been the need to reduce football department staff to approximately 25 staff. This is to minimise the risk of contact between staff and players, and the potential risk of infection within the hub. The strict number of approved staff has unfortunately resulted in the difficult decision to need to extend the stand down of several members of our football program until the end of the 2020 season. This has been very tough on both these people and the club, however we remain in regular communication with each of them and will ensure they are supported by the club over the coming months.
Outside of these 25 football department staff, an additional three staff from our Hawks Media team, and the players, there will be no one else granted access to our football department and training sessions. This includes both of us, your President and CEO. We will continue to perform our roles via Zoom and phone calls, and like you, will be glued to the Hawks website and social channels for all the updates from inside the club. Hopefully our absence from the club and football department, reiterates to you all the incredibly strict protocols and safety measures that the AFL has put in place. Everyone within the football department ‘hub’ will be required to adhere to strict protocols, including being tested for Covid-19 twice weekly.
Our GM - Football Graham Wright and his department have done an incredible amount of work to plan our program around these new regulations and guidelines. They have been incredibly thorough in their planning to ensure we adhere stringently to all protocols and that we do so with the welfare of our players, coaches and staff first and foremost.
This is undoubtedly the most excited to return to training that our players, coaches and staff have ever been.
With everything going on, the notion that there is still a premiership cup on the line seems somewhat forgotten. But rest assured it is certainly not a forgotten factor here at Hawthorn. Our football department is as eager as ever to return to the field and solidify the top four spot that we’ve held secure since Sunday March 22nd.
With the state of the Covid-19 pandemic still very much likely to evolve over the coming months, the fixturing of the season will need to allow for this. At this time, the AFL is yet to release any potential fixture, however when they do, we expect this to be done in blocks of 4-6 weeks to allow for flexibility.
While we have done our very best to adjust to the ‘new norms’ of life with Covid-19, there has been no silver lining to a halt to footy. However, what this break has highlighted, is that even in the darkest of times, the best parts of footy continue to shine through. The connection to our fellow fans and members, the support we give one another and the sense of belonging to the brown and gold family – these things have remained well and truly on display.
Although a return to footy unfortunately does not equal a return to crowds just yet, please know that we will be working harder than ever to keep you connected and informed during this period. Our players and coaches are working with our media team to find new ways to provide you with inner sanctum access and exclusive content. While you cannot be there physically, we are determined to use the technology available to ensure you are with us for every step of the season.
With the fixture remaining flexible, we remain hopeful that we will be able to play to crowds at some point this season. In the interim, we must adjust to the empty stadiums, but Round 1 served as a reminder that fans really do make our game what it is. The passion, energy and atmosphere you bring to the game week in week out, is not something we will ever take for granted. Every game that we play from now until you’re back in the stands will be played with our members at the forefront of our thoughts.
As always, thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support of the brown and gold. A reminder to you all that our membership department is open and on hand for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your membership or the 2020 season.
Get the calendars out and mark the date in your diaries: 27 sleeps until footy is back!
27 sleeps until we get to yell “BREEEUUUUST” and “BALLLLL,” and fingers crossed belt out the club song together, wherever each of us may be watching from. The circumstances might not be perfect, but footy is back and a premiership cup is up for grabs – plenty to be excited about.
Stay tuned to your emails and our club channels for all the latest info and inner sanctum access.
Stay safe and take care,
Jeff Kennett and Justin Reeves