After careful consideration and consultation from Member States, medical experts and athletes, Softball Australia regretfully confirms the 2021 Gilley’s Shield has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 impact.
Given current and newly confirmed border restrictions leading into 2021, Softball Australia cannot hold the Gilley’s Shield in its existing format. Furthermore, the event cannot be held beyond March 2021 due to the lead up program for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games.
Some Member States may not be in a position to send teams altogether, and/or, there will be significant stress and pressure put on programs from a financial perspective.
Softball Australia also note that some States preparation has been and continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.
With limited opportunities available for recruiting much needed key position players (eg. lack of international travel resulting in no high-level pitchers able to join state teams), in addition to Australian players who are unavailable given college requirements, the competitive nature of Gilley’s will be impacted significantly.
Delaying the Gilley’s Shield to later in the year is not an option. In order to best prepare the Tokyo Olympic Squad for podium success, selection of a final squad of players must occur no later than mid-March 2021 (at the latest).
Cancellation of the Gilley’s Shield is by no means a decision Softball Australia has made lightly and the High Performance and Events Team have been comprehensive in gathering the relevant information in regards to safety, logistics, level of competition and financial strain on athletes.
Softball Australia has made the following consultations with:
- Softball Australia High Performance and Events Team;
- Four Olympic Team Sport CEO’s on their plans;
- Travelodge Aussie Spirit Head Coach discussion with five senior players all based in different States;
- Engagement with the Softball Australia Wellbeing Manager; and
- Softball Australia COO discussion with AIS Chief Medical Officer.
Softball Australia understands the disappointment around the cancellation and are preparing alternative options for athletes vying for selection to the Travelodge Aussie Spirit team to receive top level competition and will communicate further details as they come to hand.
At this current time there are no plans to make adjustments to the remaining National Championships as listed at softball.org.au.
Softball Australia assures any changes will be announced prior to Christmas (earlier in the instance of the John Reid Shield scheduled for 22-27 February 2021) in order to reduce the risk of financial loss to both States and competitors.