Having been involved with the Albury-Wodonga Football Association for more than three decades as a player, coach and referee, Mark Leman probably thought he had seen it all as far as the border's sporting scene was concerned.
Given that his fourth year as president of the association was almost completely obliterated by coronavirus, Leman turned the page on 2020 understandably optimistic the greatest challenges were now in the rear-view mirror.
But fast-forward to September 8, and Leman was signing off a media release confirming that all football competitions for 2021 had been cancelled.
"We held on for as long as we possibly could," he said.
"We even sought approval to extend the season by three weeks so we could get more games in for everybody but it got to the point where players, committees and clubs, everybody, needed to have closure.
"From an administration point of view, COVID has doubled, if not trebled, the workload for a lot of people, especially volunteers within clubs given the workload with COVID marshals and all the conditions you've got to monitor and manage on a training and game day basis.
"It's a huge amount of work and I take my hat off to everybody who's been involved."
Running a cross-border competition has never proved more difficult, as the lockdowns ether side of the Murray River increasingly proved.
"I'm the president of the Riverina as well, which means I'm doing all the COVID stuff with Football NSW," Leman said.
"Living on the border, you're working with Victoria and NSW and that means double the workload. One state says you can train but the other states says you can't train.
"They're the challenges we get, people asking 'if I can train in Wodonga, can I drive from Albury to do it?'
"We had the same questions vice versa and that's where, from an administrator's point of view, it's crucial to understand all the different aspects of the public health orders.
"I had many meetings after work, sometimes I could have two or three Zoom meetings in one night, back-to-back.
"I could be doing meetings from 7-10pm some days so it's been a challenge.
"But we're all passionate about our sport and we put the effort in to give the kids and everybody the best opportunity to play the game. You put your hand up for these roles and you give it your best.
"I'm probably the most independent person (within AWFA) in that I'm not aligned to a club any more. It's been a real challenge to keep on top of everything but I've enjoyed it.
"I've been a critic of the game and I can honestly now put my hand on my heart and say I've taken on some roles and responsibilities, I've had a go and I've done the best I can."
They may not have yielded the ultimate reward but the efforts of Leman and his executive were not in van.
"AWFA have been fantastic with the amount of work they've done behind the scenes to try to keep the season on track," Albury Hotspurs president Brad Howard said.
"They've done a power of work and they're very selfless human beings.
"They've really helped the club presidents as well as the players to keep a level of positivity about the place after last year's season came crashing down, with only one game played.
"Last year there were only two or three clubs that really tried to stretch the season out.
"I felt we gave up too easily and I voiced my opinion on that but I was really enthused by how hard all the clubs fought this year and that was co-ordinated by AWFA.
"There were a few people locking horns last year but this year, as a collective, we've really come together.
"I think that can help us launch into a better 2022.
"We've already got a positive attitude and everyone's willing to play some sort of football."
That increased willingness to collaborate hasn't been lost on Leman.
"I think the clubs are a lot closer aligned now," he said.
"There's a lot more respect for each other's opinion and we're very much able to have good, robust discussions without being critical of somebody else's opinion.
"I think that's been a real win for the league. The ability of clubs to accept decisions has been a lot better."
Despite the many road blocks, giving up was never an option all the time playing finals still was.
"We always wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity for everyone to get a full season," Leman said. "That was our objective and we'd always worked towards that.
"We always wanted to get the right public health order and when we did get that, we'd talk to Bill Tilley, Justin Clancy and the Cross-Border Commissioner just to make sure we'd got it right and that we understood it correctly.
"They were even contacting us and asking how we were going. They've been very focused on supporting regional sport and we want to say thanks to them as well.
"The bottom line was how much football we could get and that's what the clubs wanted too, purely because we lost the whole season last year.
"That became the focus and it was always going to come down to the public health orders as to what we could and couldn't do."
"I haven't decided what my future holds," Leman added. "It comes back to who the clubs want to have as president and who wants to be on the executive.
"I think every exec member is burnt out. We've had two years of COVID and they're all tired. COVID creates a lot more work so we'll go away and have a mini-break and start planning for 2022.
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"We've already started the ball rolling, that happened this week, so it's not a case of 'drop the ball and have a rest', it's about how we can make things better in 2022 and how we can promote football better.
"We want to make sure we retain everybody we've got and get some new people involved."
The retention of volunteers over the summer will be as important as anything that happens on the field.
"There's not enough recognition for volunteers," Leman admitted. "We don't focus enough on the people behind the scenes who do a power of work to get people on the park.
"Those people may not be playing the game but they play an integral part in supporting the game.
"How do they feel about COVID? How do they feel about their role as a volunteer?
"What do they look for in terms of recognition and reward? What motivates them to want to be a volunteer?
"I want to find out how we make the role enjoyable.
"I want those volunteers to feel valued."
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