Group 10 clubs suffering in wake of COVID-19 pandemic, says chairman

DROPPED OUT: Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini (inset) says Cowra's decision to drop out of premier league is an after affect of COVID-19. Magpies rake Benjamin John is pictured in 2018. Photos: NICK McGRTAH
DROPPED OUT: Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini (inset) says Cowra's decision to drop out of premier league is an after affect of COVID-19. Magpies rake Benjamin John is pictured in 2018. Photos: NICK McGRTAH

Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini says it's likely other clubs, right across Western, are "suffering silently" in the wake of COVID-19.

Cowra dropped out of Group 10's premier league competition last week, dipping the competition back to just seven first grade sides - Orange Hawks, Orange CYMS, Mudgee Dragons, Lithgow Workies, Blayney Bears, Bathurst Panthers and Bathurst St Pat's - after Oberon pulled the pin completely at the end of the 2019 season.

Last year was a complete write-off after COVID-19 forced Zamparini and his fellow board members to abandon the 2020 season, and the long-standing Group 10 boss says the impact of no footy last winter is only now just starting to be felt.

He believes a number of clubs are struggling to get players back to the fold after 12 months off, and Cowra pulling the pin ahead of the 2021 Group 10 season may only be the start of a tough year for the Group.

Not since 2011 has the Group 10 season been contested by just seven clubs.

Zamparini said Cowra's decision to pull the pin on forming a top grade side had been in the works for a while, and it's likely a number of other clubs in Group 10 may be forced to abandon plans to field different lower grade sides, depending on how numbers are faring.

With that in mind, the Oberon-based chairman says Group 10 will work with clubs to help accommodate needs on a case-by-case basis.

"(Group 10 secretary Peter McDonald) lives at Cowra and he talks to them a bit, and he's said for a while now they've been struggling for numbers in top grade. I think in the end they made a decision to keep moral at the club. They've called it now with an eye on rebuilding for 2022," Zamparini said.

"It's not good, and don't worry, there's probably other clubs out there silently suffering too.

"It's making it tough in 2021 we went through 2020 with no league and everyone went different directions.

"Marc (McLeish) and the Cowra committee made the decision that's it's no good sending a team out there that's only going to do half the job. They're not prepared to do that, and we'll support that."