Territorians will continue toenjoy blockbuster AFL games, with the Territory Labor Government signing a newagreement that will see the Gold Coast Suns play a home game in Darwin and theMelbourne Demons continue to play in Alice Springs each season for the nextfour years.
The new deal will also see theMelbourne Demons Womens team play a game in Alice Springs next year, with theGold Coast Suns running talent academy camps in Darwin to identify localplayers with the potential to play for the Suns AFLW team once up and running.
Both clubs will also promote theTerritory through their networks, encouraging supporters to visit or make themove here.
The away teams that will face offagainst the Suns in Darwin and the Demons in Alice will be announced in comingweeks as part of the 2020 AFL draw.
The Territory Labor Government willalso maintain funding to AFLNT to support its plans for improved talentpathways and football community programs. This recognises that strongerfoundations at the grassroots level, particularly in remote communities, willlead to more Territory players being chosen to play at elite levels.
As noted by Minister forTourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss:
Footy is a way of life in theTerritory, playing a key role in keeping young people on a positive path andsupporting stronger communities.
This new agreement with AFL willsee top quality games continue to be played in both Darwin and Alice Springsover the next four years, providing a boost to the local economy as well assupporting strong grassroots footy and clear pathways for Territory playerslooking to make it at elite levels.
Both clubs have committed toworking with the community to ensure their presence in the NT provides outcomesfor the community beyond the games themselves. Melbourne will continue theirgreat work in Central Australia and the Gold Coast Suns will roll out a seriesof grass roots focused football activities in the Top End.
AFLNTs new player pathways planaligns with this new agreement and signals a new chapter for Territoryfooty. It will help uncover and develop talent across the Territory,giving aspiring young players more opportunities to play in the AFLW and AFL.
AFL games help drive visitation, support ourlocal businesses and boost the economy and we look forward to welcoming theGold Coast Suns and the Melbourne Demons back to the Territory in 2020.
As noted by AFL NorthernTerritory Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Totham:
We are very appreciative of theNorthern Territory Government, AFL, Gold Coast and Melbourne football clubs forworking with us on a plan that not only covers games here in the NT over thenext five years but will deliver great community benefits and provide a boostto all the aspiring Territory footballers dreaming of making it the AFL andAFLW, while also driving growth in the game throughout the NT.
At AFLNT, we are focused onincreasing the number of AFL and AFLW players from the NT. The long-termcommitment by the NTG, AFL and clubs to NT football will give us a solidplatform from which we can broaden and grow our current talent base andfacilitate the growth in the presence of NT players at the elite level.
As noted by Gold Coast SUNSFootball Club, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Evans:
We are thrilled to have Darwin confirmed as a Gold Coast SUNS TalentAcademy Zone and to highlight our commitment to the region we are pleased toannounce that we will play AFL games in Darwin.
We share AFLNTs vision of increasing participation and seeing moreNorthern Territory talent on AFL and AFLW lists and to drive this we havecommitted to delivering programs and creating pathways to foster talent anddevelop people.
As noted by Melbourne FootballClub, Chief Executive Officer, Gary Pert:
A lot of work goes into creatingthese opportunities, and being able to first inspire the youth, beforeproviding a talent pathway through the Academy, is something were reallypassionate about.
Its more than just a game offootball for our players, coaches and staff. Our trip to the nations heartlandallows us to immerse ourselves in the community and really give back.
Were really proud of themeaningful contributions our Club makes to this region of Central Australia,from grassing a red dirt oval in Santa Teresa to eradicating the eye diseaseTrachoma through our player-led education programs.
As we continue this work in2020, wed like to acknowledge the Northern Territory Government for itsongoing support of the game and also allowing us to have such a positive impactin the community.