Jupp wants WAFL before AFL
East Fremantle vice-captain Matthew Jupp wants the WAFL competition to resume before the AFL season, if given the green light by the relevant government authorities.
With the SANFL exploring the possibility of commencing it’s season on May 31st, Jupp believes the WAFL should look to follow suit.
“Absolutely, I couldn’t think of anything better for the competition,” Jupp said of the idea on Sports Drive on Monday.
“It gives us a sense of relevance, some separation from the AFL, we are a completely separate competition and we have our own strengths that the AFL doesn’t, the relevance and buzz that would create around our games would be fantastic.”
“I would implore officials and any players and coaches to do whatever they can to get it started, even if that does mean it’s before the AFL starts.”
Sharks players returned to training in groups of eight on Monday evening, training without footballs due to the risk of human transmission of COVID-19.
It comes after the state government eased social distancing rules last week, with gatherings of up to ten people allowed in a public setting.
26-year-old Jupp was the sole player representative as part of a meeting between the clubs and the WAFL last Friday, looking at the viability of a 2020 season.
Jupp said one clear obstacle presented itself for all WAFL clubs.
“The main concern is the financial viability of it (the season),” he said.
“Everyone knows that the WAFL and all businesses are struggling during this period. the WAFL isn’t immune to that, nor are any of the clubs.”
“Are there going to be crowds involved? Are the clubs are going to be able to make enough revenue out of the games? Are they going to be able to pay their players and their staff? These are all the things that are involved with the discussions that are happening at the moment.”
While an eight or nine game home and away season has been touted, the reigning Sharks best and fairest confirmed that wasn’t the only option on the table.
“There’s been a discussion around on whether we can play some more games on top of playing everyone once, whether that means we will be able to play everyone twice who knows, whether we can fit that many games in,” Jupp said.
“I think the general consensus was let’s play as many games as possible as we can possibly fit in. The more games you play in a season, the better chances the ladder can settle itself as it should be. I think that’s what everyone wants.”
Jupp also confirmed that the season could be extended beyond September.
"The season length and when it would finish was discussed at length. The common consensus was around potentially going in to October and November if we have to. The dates might change, that hasn't been decided these are just ideas that have been thrown up," he said.
"If the season can get underway it (the Grand Final) will probably be pushed back."
Jupp said that players were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel after a challenging period.
“I was pretty dejected because I was of the opinion a couple of weeks ago we probably wouldn’t get a season away at all,” he said.
“The extremely great work of the WA public in limiting the spread of the disease means we probably are going to get a season. That joy and excitement of knowing we are going to be able to kick a footy around and play against some opponents, it’s really exciting.”
Jupp is also a part of East Fremantle Football Club’s campaign to raise funds to keep the club alive beyond the pandemic, with the Sharks one of a number of clubs expected to be hit hard financially because of COVID-19.
IMAGE: Phil Elliott/ Pixell photography.