AFLNT has tonight announced the scheduled TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 13 fixture between Tiwi Bombers and Waratah at Wurrumiyanga tomorrow (Saturday 9 January) has been postponed.
Tiwi Land Council cited community concern regarding illness in the Waratah camp including a player who had returned from COVID-19 hotspot Brisbane in the past week and requested the game not go ahead as scheduled.
AFLNT officials have been working closely with both clubs and the Department of Health following the return of local players from the declared Brisbane hotspot in Queensland; one of whom reported flu-like symptoms this morning (Friday 8 January).
Both players have since returned negative COVID-19 tests tonight and the league was cleared by Health officials to continue with the fixture, however has accepted the request from the Tiwi Land Council to postpone the game.
“AFLNT, Tiwi Bombers and Waratah FC support the request by the Tiwi Land Council as it is acting on behalf of the wider community and with the community’s safety as its priority,” AFLNT Community Football Manager Leigh Elder said.
“Our advice from Department of Health was that there was minimal risk as both players have tested negative, however we understand that the Council wishes to take a very cautious approach to this latest hotspot announcement.
“The safety of umpires, players, coaches, officials and the community is AFLNT’s top priority and we will continue to following all advice from the Department of Health.”
Both Waratah players returned from Brisbane over the past few days with both attending team training on the evening of Thursday 7 January. One of the players then reported flu-like symptoms to his club on Friday morning (8 January) which also coincided with the NT Department of Health’s declaration of the Brisbane area as a hotspot. Both players then isolated, contacted the NT Coronavirus hotline and underwent COVID-19 tests.
Both players returned negative COVID-19 results and have been advised they no longer need to self-isolate, but must continue to monitor for any symptoms and practice social distancing.
The Waratah team was due to fly to Wurrumiyanga tomorrow morning (Saturday) and the game has now been officially registered as postponed and AFLNT will work with the clubs to explore options including potential rescheduling of that fixtured game.
Tiwi Bombers President Mary Dunn said: “We support the Regional Council and the Tiwi Land Council in this decision. The safety of the community comes first.”
Waratah president Rohan Langworthy said: “We are disappointed not to be playing tomorrow but respect the decision of the Tiwi Land Council. They have a right to do what they feel is necessary for the health of their community.”
AFLNT Community Football Manager Leigh Elder thanked both clubs and urged the broader NTFL community to ensure that all protocols are being followed.
“AFLNT will continue to proactively respond to and monitor any potential situation that arises and we have sought assurances from each of the local NTFL Clubs to work closely with us on adhering to our established COVID-19 protocols,” he said.
“We know we’ve been very lucky here in the Territory so far however with a lot of movement over the Christmas/New Year break it is an important reminder for us that all it takes is just one failure to report for our competition and participants to be at risk.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Health officials for the tireless work they are doing on the frontline of the COVID-19 to ensure the community is safe.”
If you have any concerns about your health or safety you are encouraged to contact the COVID hotline on 1800 008 002.