2020: Footy In The Time Of Coronavirus

In a difficult year that saw life in general change forever and the country forced to social distance, Aussie Rules footy in Montreal found a way to focus on the positives, break new ground, put local rivalries aside and come together as one in what footy clubs do best - foster a supportive community.

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In what seems a lifetime ago, 2020 started all guns blazing as Winter Co-Ed Social Footy kicked off with a huge success under the Stingerdome. Temperatures well below zero failed to dampen spirits as an avalanche of first timers kicked, marked and handballed a footy for the very first time in the newly created Co-Ed Non-contact flag football format. A momentous occasion would be the creation of the Rainbow Roos, an LGBTQ+ themed squad that reinforced the Montreal Footy mantra; Footy For Everyone.

A worldwide pandemic, lockdown and new social distance restrictions later and the 2020 AFL Quebec season was - along with most other leagues in North America - suspended until further notice. With players in isolation, Montreal Footy developed a unique 'Digital Footy' competition that allowed players to translate their individual 'iso' fitness workouts into goals and behinds. Teams across the globe went head to head and were encouraged to connect with each other on social media via special challenges and friendly banter.

As restrictions eased and Montrealites emerged from their Covid-bunkers the idea of actually kicking a footy to a teammate became a reality. On the back of tireless work from Quebec Saints Head Coach Brett Whyborn, AFL Quebec kept the team kits locked away for the summer and relaunched a Covid-Safe Co-Ed Social Flag Footy competition in strict accordance with new government guidelines. A summer of Lysol smelling Sherrins and hand sanitiser tucked into kit bags alongside the deep heat ensured goals were still being kicked, solo 'speckies' taken and visually impaired umpires still verbally abused.

In the gloom of what couldn't be done in 2020, the Aussie Rules community in Montreal found a multitude of ways to stay connected and share a passion for our game anyway we could. We are already counting down to Season 2021!

Photo: Greg Caza