AFL Victoria planning to complete Herald Sun Shield despite challenges

AFTER being put on ice due to the global pandemic and specifically Victorian lockdowns last year, AFL Victoria’s Herald Sun Shield is still in the works to go ahead for 2021. Originally planned to commence in July, the state footballing body is working through a revised schedule for the 10-division competition which will be released “once there is clarity on restrictions beyond the current lockdown period”.

The Herald Sun Shield sees the best schools outside those in the APS or AGS systems compete for a trophy each year, with the 44th winners to be announced in 2021 should it go ahead. Revised to run across late Term 3 and early Term 4 this year, there are 10 divisions which schools can compete in:

  • Intermediate Girls – Two Divisions
  • Senior Girls – Two Divisions
  • Intermediate Boys – Two Divisions
  • Senior Boys – Two Divisions
  • Special School Girls Division
  • Special School Boys Division

The 2019 Herald Sun Shield Senior Boys Division 1 Grand Final saw St Bede’s take down eight-time champions St Patrick’s Ballarat at Trevor Barker Oval, with a host of Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels playing in the match. Recent AFL Rising Star nominee Miles Bergman was best-on that day for St Bede’s playing alongside St Kilda’s Ryan Byrnes. Among the Rebels that day included now Brisbane Lions’ Harry Sharp, and now top-ager and current Rebel Fraser Marris.

Ballarat Grammar won the 2019 Senior Girls Division 1 Grand Final, defeating Hallam Senior College by 47 points at a wet and windy RAMS Arena. Ballarat’s Alice Astbury won the best-on medal for the winners, whilst Hallam’s Shaneece Stratton was awarded best-on for the losers. Among the eventually drafted AFLW talents were Melbourne’s Maggie Caris and St Kilda’s Renee Saulitis.

Head of AFL Victoria, Brad Scott said the organisation was “committed to exploring all options for conducting the Herald Sun Shield in 2021″ and would work with schools as to the best way to facilitate the tournament.

“It is a competition with a rich history and over the years has provided a platform to showcase so many strong school football programs and players,” Scott said. “It also provides boys and girls with a wonderful football experience, with so much football having been missed in the past 18 months.

“Having not been able to hold the competition in 2020, we are hoping to be able to conduct the Herald Sun Shield in 2021 while understanding there are COVID-related factors out of our control. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely, work with government and stakeholders, and provide an update when we can.

“I would like to thank the schools for their understanding and willingness to work with us to find a way to hold the competition if it’s safe to do so.”

AFL Victoria will of course continue to work closely with the Victorian Government and be guided by advice from the government and health authorities, with the health and safety of the community the top priority.

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