Having been sidelined since mid-March because of the coronavirus crisis, AFL Hunter Central Coast (HCC) clubs can now resume training in small groups and officials are hoping to make a final call on the 2020 season during June.
The non-contact sessions for senior and junior players will need to satisfy a checklist of requirements, including a maximum three groups of 10 people per ground at any time, social distancing of 1.5 metres and supplying a COVID-19 officer.
This announcement was made following an online meeting with up to 50 representatives from AFL NSW-ACT, the AFL HCC board and clubs on Thursday night and reflects the state government's revised public health order handed down on May 15.
AFL NSW-ACT northern regional manager Simon Smyth said the move was met largely with "positivity" but admitted some questions about the rest of the year remain unanswered.
Terrigal Avoca captain-coach Chris Bishop said it was "great" news and the defending Black Diamond Cup premiers intend to be back on the training paddock in the "first week of June".
Newcastle City mentor Tim Cotter has already been working how to tackle the new guidelines: "We will be running with groups of 10 in shifts. 6pm and 7pm for one-hour skills sessions".
Cardiff spearhead Nick Tomlinson said it "definitely feels like a step closer and we'll just stay ready with a view to hitting the ground running once games start because early wins in a shortened season will be paramount for a high placing come finals time".
Warners Bay coach Nathan Harkness said the Bulldogs "weren't looking too far ahead" and were waiting to see "what doors open".
AFL HCC have reminded clubs that local councils "must be consulted as part of your return to training preparations".
The structure of any potential competitions for 2020 is still up in the air and Smyth said AFL HCC "want a final decision" to be made "after the June long weekend" to provide participants with "clarity". Smyth again emphasied the number one priorty was the "health and safety of the community".
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