Grand Final fever hits as Darwin prepares to complete a historic season

They were the first state to see the return of football and now Northern Territory will witness their first footballers compete in the Men’s Premier League and Women’s Premier League Grand Finals this weekend.

Completing the 2020 season has been quite a feat with the challenges thrown at all Member Federations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Football Northern Territory Chief Executive Officer Bruce Stalder is proud of the work of his team to ensure that the season will have a fitting finale.

“We worked incredibly hard, as did everyone involved in our clubs to ensure we were able to get back on the park as quickly as possible,” he said.

It was a credit to everyone involved in our game that we were able to be one of the first competitions in the world to recommence and to do so with crowds, attracting attention from all over the globe.”

Darwin Football Stadium, Larrakia Park will be the sight off both finals with defending champions Hellenic taking on Mindil Aces in the Women’s Grand Final, while Casuarina will aim to go back-to-back against Mindil Aces – a re-match of last year’s finale.

FNT 2020 Grand Finals-Teams
Football Northern Territory 2020 Grand Finalists (Photo: Football NT)

The fascinating storyline in the women’s match is the defending champions Hellenic who are represented by no less than six cousins from the same family.

Sisters Leesa, Joanna and Sophia Makrylos are joined by their cousins – also sisters – Elli and Pariskevi Makrylos, while Evi Poniris rounds out the family contingent.

Hellinic FC Cousins
From Left: Evi Poniris, Joanna Makrylos, Sophia Makrylos, Ilias Makrylos, Pariskevi Makrylos, Leesa Makrylos, Elli Makrylos (Photo: Football NT)

Interestingly the Makrylos/Poniris clan are not the only family group in the squad with team captain Leonora Kilmartin and her player/coach cousn Georgia Hajdic part of the club for over 30 years. A championship on Sunday would be a truly family affair for Hellenic.

As all the men’s and women’s matches have been this season, the grand final matches will be live streamed and this initiative in 2020 has brought local game in the Northern Territory to a global audience.

Full live streaming of matches was one of two firsts for Football Northern Territory with another seeing the introduction of Australia’s only indigenous women’s team playing in the Premier League, the NT Yappa’s.

“Our mission at FNT is to work together with NT indigenous communities for a shared football future and it has been so pleasing to see a record number of indigenous players participating in our game over the past three years.

“The NT Yappa’s held their own in their first season in the Women’s Premier League and we look forward to seeing them grow even further next season,” Stadler concluded.

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