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Search for solutions to sports’ COVID-19 challenges

Sharon McGowan, June 2, 2020 6:45PM Herald Sun

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Eane Whitton from Buffalo Sports and Andrew Fitzgerald of Gospel Whiskey have made some sanitiser spray suitable for sports balls. Picture: Mark Stewart media_cameraEane Whitton from Buffalo Sports and Andrew Fitzgerald of Gospel Whiskey have made some sanitiser spray suitable for sports balls. Picture: Mark Stewart


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A Melbourne sports company has developed a spray that would allow cricket balls to be sanitised without leaving any residue*.

Gel-based sanitisers are against the cricket rules of play, so the spray could be a solution to a problem for cricket organisations and players getting ready to return to training and play after COVID-19 disruptions.

The rules of cricket state that the condition and performance of the ball cannot be altered by artificial substances.

Eane Whitton, who runs Buffalo Sports Pharmaceuticals*, has created the new gel-free sanitiser that dries within 23 seconds and leaves no film on any surface it’s sprayed on.

Mr Whitton said he’s sending samples of his product, made to the World Health Organisation’s specifications*, to the International Cricket Council for approval.

The sanitiser is also suitable for all other sports including footy, rugby, bowls and tennis.

“My suggestion would be that the umpire has a bottle in his pocket and the umpire will call a player from each team and spray the ball in front of them,” he said.

“They should do that at the start of the game and at whatever periods they decide after that. The performance of the ball won’t be affected because the sanitiser doesn’t leave any residue.”

Sports Ball Suitable Sanitiser Spray media_cameraEane Whitton developed a sanitiser to use on sports equipment, including cricket balls. Picture: Mark Stewart

Mr Whitton has run sporting goods business Buffalo Sports for the past 50 years but started his new sanitiser company after their sales plummeted due to coronavirus.

“Our business is based on clubs and schools and that all stopped. And the ones who did buy this year probably won’t next year because anything they have bought isn’t being used,” he said.

“We’ve lost about half of our sales.”

The 76-year-old teamed up with a Brunswick distillery* to develop the sanitiser from alcohol made from Australian barley and rye.

He’s keen to supply sanitiser to and sponsor local sports clubs.

“We know with a lot of local clubs, they’ve lost a lot of sponsorship because they’re not taking in any money at the gate, no canteen money or no bar money because there are no matches.

“We want to support them and get local sport back up and running.”

Empty stadium media_cameraKardinia Park, home of the Geelong Cats. Without crowds, footy matches are very quiet. Picture: Alan Barber

Recorded crowd noise could provide atmosphere for AFL games played without fans.

NRL used what is called “canned*” crowd noise when its 2020 season restarted last Thursday. AFL Round 1 matches — played without crowds in March — were broadcast with just the raw match noise of play. The AFL season restarts at Round 2 on June 11.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan praised the NRL’s canned crowd noise and said he’d back AFL broadcasters Channel 7 and Fox Footy if they opted to go down that path.

“I thought the canned crowd noise was good, I thought it was a positive,” McLachlan told 3AW.

“I thought it added to the atmosphere of the game.”

NRL Rd 3 - Sea Eagles v Bulldogs media_cameraCardboard cut-outs of fans around the stadium during the round three NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and Canterbury Bulldogs at Central Coast Stadium on May 31, 2020 in Gosford, NSW. Picture: Getty Images

NRL also filled some seats in the empty stadiums with life-size, cardboard cutouts of people.

Rugby league supporters could pay $22 to be part of the “Fan in the Stand” initiative*.

It is not yet known when crowds will be allowed to return to watch sport in stadiums around Australia.


  • residue: something left behind
  • pharmaceuticals: relating to medicines
  • specifications: details, rules or measurements
  • distillery: distils liquids, such as alcohol
  • initiative: idea or plan
  • canned: pre-recorded


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Coronavirus restrictions to ease across Australia


  1. Why would cricketers need to clean the ball?
  2. What’s the problem with using regular sanitiser on a cricket ball?
  3. Why has Mr Whitton’s business sold less sports equipment?
  4. Who is Gillon McLachlan?
  5. How much did fans pay to have a cardboard cutout at an NRL match?


1. COVID-19 and Sport
The new rules and restrictions brought in since the COVID-19 pandemic have made things like sport a lot harder to run and organise, especially for junior and local clubs.

Work with a partner to write a list of 6-8 problems that organisers face now trying to organise junior sport (it can be whatever sport you are involved in such as football, netball, soccer, gymnastics, dance etc.) In the column beside it write some possible solutions to solve these issues so that sport can possibly still go ahead.

Problems and solutions sample table media_cameraProblems and solutions sample table

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical education, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social

2. Extension
What other ideas can you come up with to make watching an AFL or NRL match more exciting to watch at home with no crowd? What fundraising ideas can you think of to raise money for a charity? Write down your idea and which charity you would like to see it go to.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

Read with Penny Punctuation

Pair up with the article between you and stand up to make it easy to demonstrate your Kung Fu Punctuation.

Practice reading one sentence at a time. Now read it again, while acting out the punctuation as you read.

Read and act 3 sentences before swapping with your partner.

Have 2 turns each.

Now as a challenge ask your partner to read a sentence out loud while you try and act out the punctuation. Can you keep up?

Swap over?

Try acting out 2 sentences.

Are you laughing yet?

Have fun acting out your punctuation.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What group or team activity have you missed?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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