AFL VictoriaThe Age | The greatest, or gravest, challenge confronting the game of Australian football in this pandemic isn't the loss of coaches and staff, the pay cuts, the reduction in television dollars and sponsors, or the debt clubs will ratchet up.

It's not persuading 800-plus AFL players to obey monastic "protocols" that allow them and the clubs to keep playing. It's not getting chief health officers – our society's field umpires – on side.

It's not even those dystopian images that will define this strange AFL season: games played in large, empty stadiums, with people sitting 1.5 metres apart on the interchange bench.

No, the most momentous challenge is the one that faces the code, rather than the AFL: it is the task of getting thousands of local community players and volunteers, from Broome to Beaumaris, on the park for competitive matches.

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