Townsville retains showcase NAB Challenge match
Tuesday, October 28 2014 @ 07:05 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The North Queensland city of Townsville will host its third NAB Challenge AFL fixture in 2015. With the release today of the AFL’s 2015 NAB Challenge fixture, the people of Townsville and across North Queensland will look forward to the match at Tony Ireland Stadium on Sunday 1st March.
In 2015 it will be the Geelong Cats making the trek north to meet the Gold Coast Suns. The inaugural match in 2013 saw the North Melbourne Kangaroos make the journey, whilst in 2014 it was the Brisbane Lions that visited with a one off Queensland derby.
For the Gold Coast Suns it strengthens their connections to North Queensland. As well as having played AFL Premiership matches in Cairns since 2011 (and a VFL match in 2010), the NAB Challenge matches in Townsville have been a welcome addition to the roster of high performance football played in the region.
Not only have the Suns been able to develop a strong support base through the matches, but they have also worked hard at the grassroots level in the north through events connected to the matches, their own Gold Coast Suns Academy which develops talent pathways for future players and their support of school football through the Gold Coast Suns Cup and associated school carnivals and tournaments.
Many Australian Rules football followers in Townsville still harbour the hope of one day emulating Cairns’ success and hosting premiership matches in the northern city. They are certainly headed in the right direction in hosting their third pre-season match. More exposure will inevitably lead to a greater following and resulting redevelopment of Tony Ireland Stadium, with lighting, seating, catering and corporate sponsorship being addressed and improved.
Cairns followed a similar pathway, hosting a number of pre-season matches from 2003, before being granted premiership matches from 2011. Townsville is now well down a similar pathway. Locals can now look forward to another chapter of AFL football in their city.
Details of accompanying events will be released by AFL Townsville and the Townsville City Council closer to the date.
For the full list of NAB Challenge matches announced today by the AFL, click the following link: http://www.afl.com.au/fixture/nab-challenge