Contributed by: Wesley Hull
NTFL Press Release:
The 2018/19 TIO NTFL season will start with a bang when defending premiers Southern Districts play a grand final rematch against the Darwin Buffaloes on the first Saturday night of the season.
This is just part of an exciting TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League season that was announced with the fixture release by AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) today.
The season will kick off on Friday 5 October and is scheduled to culminate with the grand final on Saturday 16 March 2019.
This year the AFLNT Football Operations team worked in collaboration with clubs, with each club given an opportunity to have input and share feedback on last year’s fixture and also put forward key club priorities for the upcoming season.
AFLNT CEO Stuart Totham said the football operations team had worked hard to get an understanding of each club’s requests and had factored in those that were plausible.
“It was great to work closely with the clubs on this season’s fixture. As a result, we believe we have landed with a fixture that is fair and promises to deliver another great season of exciting, competitive NTFL footy.
“For many people, the NTFL season is their favourite time of the year, so we hope that the football delivers on the promise that’s been set out with today’s release,” he said.
Clubs with a home ground have been given either five or six games to play on their own turf, with the Tiwi Bombers to play four of their home games on the island before Christmas and two more at Tracy Village post-Christmas.
"Now that the fixture is confirmed one of our main priorities is to work with the local airline providers to try and fulfil the Tiwi Islands games but as we saw last season the availability of flights, pilots, weather and so forth are beyond our control," Totham said.
Heritage Round and the 31st anniversary of the Bicentennial Carnival will be celebrated over the Australia Day long weekend in January, with traditional rivals all going into battle and the annual Foundation Cup game between Waratah and Wanderers scheduled at Gardens Oval.
Triple headers at TIO Stadium also make a return this season with the number of standalone Friday night fixtures cut down after feedback from clubs suggested non-Friday night games boded better for player management and availability. Data analysis on the last few seasons also showed the standalone Friday night fixture at TIO Stadium was uneconomical to run.
Should lights at Gardens Oval and PSC BM Oval in Nightcliff be operational before season’s end, then AFLNT will consider rejigging the fixture and work with the clubs to trial Friday night games at suburban grounds.
Meanwhile, fans who love their Territory footy will have a great opportunity to see as much NTFL action as they desire with the games scheduled across multiple days or back-to-back at TIO Stadium. The exception being Round 5 and Round 18 which are earmarked as ‘home’ games for all clubs with all four matches being played on Saturday.
“There are currently 12 triple headers set down for TIO Stadium this season, which is fantastic for fans who want to fill their wet season weekends with footy.
“However, if during the season lights at either Nightcliff or Gardens Oval are up and running then we may use the opportunity to trial a couple of night fixtures and gather some intel ahead of the 2019/20 season. If that were to happen though we’d work closely with the clubs involved,” Totham said.
Umpiring Round is once again set down for Round 2 with the community encouraged to get behind and get involved with the NTFL’s 15th club.
Fixtures for the other senior divisions, including the TIO NTFL Women’s Premier League, will be released by the end of August. While nominations for clubs to submit teams for the junior divisions won’t close until Saturday 1st September, with the fixtures to be created from this.
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