SENIOR Tallangatta and District league coaches have been left shocked by the competition's decision to call off junior football.
Although the move to abandon the senior competition was expected after an outbreak of coronavirus cases in Melbourne over the weekend, the cancellation of under-age football caught many off-guard in the league.
The TDFL made the decision on Wednesday night following legal and health advice but remains supportive of clubs organising their own junior sport.
Kiewa-Sandy Creek's Adam Mudra, Yackandandah's Darren Holmes and Chiltern's Luke Brookes said they were bitterly disappointed for youngsters within the league.
"I'm personally really disappointed there is nothing on from a junior angle," Mudra said.
"I understand the senior situation as it was inevitable with all that has played out since Saturday but the juniors surprised me.
"I thought there was an opportunity to continue in some way, shape or form.
"What could transpire from this is kids could walk away from the sport because they aren't engaged.
"I don't have all the facts but what I see is that we need to be really strong for our kids.
"There has been adversity thrown at us but I just thought we needed to find a way to work through it."
Mudra said Kiewa-Sandy Creek would be proactive in organising junior sport as a club and expected other clubs to follow the same path.
Holmes, who has coached Yackandanda's juniors in recent years before taking over the senior post this season, said he couldn't understand the move considering children were allowed to go to school and sit near each other on the bus.
"I'm really disappointed for the kids," Holmes said.
"I fear we will lose footballers because of it.
"I'm confused as it's different to what the Victorian Government is saying is allowed.
"I'm actually saying to our kids to go into town and see if you can play on permits."
Brookes was also left surprised and said his two sons would now align themselves with Wodonga Raiders in the Albury-Wodonga Junior Football League.
"At one stage all clubs wanted to get it going so I'm not sure what has happened," Brookes said.
"Even though I was disappointed to see senior football called off as I think we would have been up amongst it this season, I could understand that."
TDFL president Rex Gray stressed juniors could play but not under the league's banner.
"It came down to legality and health reasons for that protocol to take place," Gray said.
"We haven't got the staff to manage the situation either as our operations manager is off work at the moment because of what's happened."