Ovens and Murray officials are preparing to thrash out how the league will navigate the impact of COVID outbreaks on player availability this season.
Case numbers have soared in recent weeks, sending many into periods of isolation, an issue which is likely to rear its head at points during the 2022 campaign.
The O and M board, which will convene on Monday for the first time since November, is also waiting for guidance from above on potential vaccination requirements for participants and spectators.
"We all thought at the back end of 2021 that we were finally on top of COVID but this recent Christmas break has indicated that it's a long way from being over," general manager Craig Millar said.
"Vaccination seems to be the way out of this for many and community competitions will be no different to that.
"We're still waiting for some further direction from the governing body as to what that looks like for AFL competitions across Victoria and I'm sure we'll get that in due course.
"We've got to work closely with our clubs to make sure there are contingencies in place in the event that there are outbreaks and enabling the competition to go ahead.
"At this stage, it looks like lockdowns and border closures are hopefully a thing of the past but it's about how we, as a competition, face the fact that sides may get mass depletions of players across netball and football.
"How we combat that will be the next challenge for the competition."
Cricket has effectively been a test case for Australian sport's ability to deal with the Omicrom variant, with the Big Bash playing on even when teams have been hit hard by COVID cases.
Locally, the policy from Cricket Albury-Wodonga is to call off lower grade matches if a club loses players to isolation, with those available promoted to fulfil fixtures at the higher level.
"It will be an extremely difficult thing to balance if and when it strikes, knowing that a club one week could have a full team and then be decimated by an outbreak within a club because we have so many players aligned from a netball and footy perspective," Millar said.
"From week to week, it's going to be a balancing act.
"The health and wellbeing of all our players, coaches, officials and volunteers is paramount but also the health of our communities.
ALSO IN SPORT:
"We know the role footy and netball play in them.
"Getting people back together, socialising and having positive things to discuss is very healthy but it's a balancing act, from week to week, of how we're going to manage to get through a whole season.
"We're optimistic we'll get through it. It's going to have some challenges, there's no two ways about it, and we'll work closely with the clubs on what some of those options look like."
Advice from AFL Victoria and AFL North East Border will determine the league's policy on vaccination.
"There's been a pretty strong view across many competitions in regards to sports that are currently being played but we'll wait for our governing body to make that decision and pass it down to us," Millar said.
"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been challenging but there's a degree of optimism.
"We just want to get back out on the court and the footy oval as quickly as we can."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.