THE Ararat Storm have put the safety of the community first and withdrawn from the junior Western Victorian Female Football League.
The season was scheduled to begin on Sunday, with Ararat to host the Hamilton Kangaroos.
However with a growing number of COVID-19 cases across western Victoria, including one active case in the Ararat region announced on Wednesday, the Storm have decided not to participate.
The Stawell Warriors and Timboon Demons have also pulled out of the season.
The Storm's junior coach Isabel Kettle said the decision was reached in consultation with parents and club leaders.
"Unfortunately with everything going on right now, we felt like we needed to do what's right," she said.
"It was a difficult call to make, but after discussing it, we decided this is what is right for the club, the girls and for all of Ararat."
Kettle admitted she was disappointed to miss out on her first season as coach of the side.
However she said she could not be prouder of the playing group.
"The girls that came to training every week, whether they knew there would be a season or not, they still gave their all, which was just really great to see," she said.
"Unfortunately it couldn't go ahead, but I know the girls would have given everything.
"Hopefully we can have heaps of numbers next year and I'm sure the determination of the girls will be there as well."
Kettle said that pre-season was likely to start again after Christmas, but encouraged girls to continue exercising and staying fit in the meantime.
Contrary to the Storm's decision, the Horsham Demons are holding out and pursuing a season, despite seven active cases of COVID-19 in the Horsham council area.
The Demons will not play in round one, but hope to join the season when they are able.
Club president Rod Dumesny said the club would continue to do what was advised, and what was legally allowed.
"All the way along our message has been abiding by the guidelines and informing our members of what can and can't be done," Mr Dumesny said.
"The girl's football will be the same; if it is right to go, then we can go.
"We're just waiting on advice from the state government and health departments."
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