LHFC Wet Weather Procedure
Games at Skennars Head
For weekend games the club looks to make a decision as early as possible. A field inspection is generally undertaken on a Friday and if it is decided the pitches are not fit to use, the club notifies FFNC who inform all the away clubs, referees etc. LHFC will put a message on its website (www.lhfc.com.au) and/or FaceBook Page as to the status of the fields.
If there is substantial rain on a Friday night an additional pitch inspection is undertaken at 7.00am on Saturday morning with a decision made by 7:30am. Again if the fields are unsuitable then a message will be posted on the LHFC website and/or FaceBook page. We then have the task of notifying all coaches, opposition clubs, referees, Football Far North Coast and canteen helpers.
It is the responsibility of coaches and parents to look at the website or FaceBook page and to then notify the rest of their teams players/parents.
Please do not ring or text members of the committee as they will know no more than what is on the website and like most people we don’t appreciate calls at 6am on a Saturday morning. In addition, we are usually on the phone to opposition clubs etc notifying them of the ground status as required by FFNC so will not respond to your calls or texts promptly.
It is the responsibility of the away club to notify the nominated member of LHFC (the secretary) of any ground closures as soon as they are known. If this is on a Friday prior to 12pm then it is posted on the FFNC website and we endeavour to put a message on our website also. It is the responsibility of coaches to look at these websites for updates. If the fields are closed on a Saturday morning then LHFC will notify the coach of the respective team(s) affected. It is then the coach who is responsible of notifying their team.
If you are in any doubt as to whether an away ground is open/closed please contact the relevant clubs designated wet weather contact. Details can generally be found on the respective clubs website or the FFNC website.
A message is posted on our website if the fields are closed, generally no later than 3pm. Can we ask coaches to check the website before proceeding with training at the grounds. Please obey these messages and as you are not insured if you use the fields when they are closed and you are likely to ruin the fields and hence enjoyment of others.
We understand the uncertainty that is created when it’s wet and you’re not sure if the grounds are open or not. We endeavour to communicate as early as possible through our website and FaceBook page and these are updated on a regular basis. We also try and place signs around the grounds to notify of the ground closures. However, there are no signs for fields 3 and 4 so if the sign at the entrance is up then these fields are closed.
Please remember that the committee have full time jobs and family to attend to so if you text, ring or email us we may not respond in a timely fashion so please look at the website or Facebook page in the first instance.
FFNC Wet Weather Guidelines
The following measures are to be used as a guide to assist Council and clubs in making a decision about ground closures:
- Surface water: Competition and training must be cancelled if there is any surface water visible on the field. The only exception to this would be if the area affected was small (less than 2m²), in a low usage/wear area and the rest of the ground is firm, and no other issues such as ground softness and poor grass cover are evident. Surface water means that the ground has reached saturation point and will be damaged very quickly if played on.
- Ground softness: Competition and training must be cancelled if there is any sinking into the field when walking on it and this does not bounce back or if when standing still/walking water rises up to the surface. The only exception to this would be if the only area affected was small (less than 2m²), in a low usage/wear area and the rest of the field was firm and poor grass cover is not an additional issue. Water rising to the surface when walking on it means that the ground has reached saturation point and will be damaged very quickly if played on.
- Amount of rainfall: Rainfall leading into competition and training should be used to guide decisions. If it has rained heavily or consistently leading up to training and/or competition then\this should aid the decision to be made. Some grounds will take rain all week and be fine on the weekend for competition; other grounds will have no rain all week and rain the night before an event and will need to be cancelled. Clubs should take into consideration the rainfall during the week, the night before and the forecast for the day of training/competition when making decisions.
- Soil profile and drainage: Some fields naturally drain better than others; this has to do with the soil profile below the surface. Sand based fields (usually near the coast – sandy profile) drain quicker and more effectively than those on natural ground (away from the coast – heavier profile) or former tip sites (heaviest profile). Clubs should have a good idea of the drainage and amount of rainfall their ground can take, and this should be considered when making decisions.
- Grass cover: During the winter season grass cover can often get below 60% or 70% and be fine for play during dry weather. However, during wet weather if overall grass cover is below 70% then this ground is likely to wear more substantially under wet weather training and competition than grounds with more grass cover. If a decision is made to play or train on wet ground with low grass cover, then this may cause irreparable damage to your field.
- Amount and type of activity: If your club is about to have a full days competition, with 20 or more teams due to play, then this is going to have a considerable effect on the ground during wet weather. Grounds can be damaged very quickly over 1 or 2 weekends with heavy use and wet weather. Also, juniors and seniors impact the ground differently and clubs need to understand the impact that different groups have on the grounds.
- Grounds will be inspected the day before an event if there has been regular rain leading into the event. All grounds should be inspected the morning of an event and if a decision to go ahead with play has been made then the ground should be assessed again mid morning to see what effect the first few games have had on the ground. This is especially important when the decision to allow play was a difficult decision. Consistency of inspections should also be a priority for clubs – the same person should do the inspections for a competition day and the club should nominate a couple of people to undertake inspections of their grounds.
Two main issues need to be taken into account for ground closures due to wet weather:
- Player safety: While it is often considered that hard ground is the main concern in relation to player safety, slippery and heavy turf is also the cause of player injury. If grass dislodges easily players can find it hard to maintain footing and more unusual injuries can occur due to irregular movement and responses to the conditions. Another safety issue is dirty water in puddles. Stagnant water sitting in muddy puddles can carry bacteria that can cause illness. Council, Associations and Clubs have a duty of care and OH&S obligations to their players and must ensure the safety of players as their first priority.
- Substantial damage to field: Clubs need to ensure their grounds are not damaged for 1 day’s play which could see their ground taken out of action for maintenance for a number of weeks. Clubs should attempt to assess what affect 22-30 players running, tackling and/or scrummaging on this field will have. If you are in doubt, erring on the side of caution will ensure your ground is still suitable for play in the last few weeks of the season.