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Friday, December 04 2020 @ 12:53 pm ACDT

Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.

Time will almost certainly prove that the selection of the Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for the 2020 International Cup will be an inspired choice. Take it from me, a coach who steered his teams to two spectacular losses at the venue in 2017.

This venue has the capacity to not only host the IC20 but also take the tournament into a future of even greater growth.

Since 2002, the six editions of the International Cup have been hosted by Melbourne – not unreasonably, as the city is the spiritual home of Australian Football and a magnet for followers of the game. Royal Park and a number of suburban and country venues showcased the international teams over the years, as did iconic venues such as the MCG. Games have been played in Sydney also.

However, to many a move away from Melbourne would almost certainly have seen the tournament head to another Australian Rules dominant city such as Adelaide or Perth. Not so, as it turns out, with the AFL casting a keen eye towards the future, especially in Queensland.

Whilst the logistics and rationale of a Queensland move can be argued later, Maroochydore as a destination offers plenty. For those unfamiliar with the venue, a little description is needed.

There are three excellent, full size football fields. Adjacent to these are three soccer fields and a number of netball courts. There are also training areas adjacent to these. In short, the venue has the capacity to host three matches at a time on full fields, with plenty of space for warming up. Of course, things like toilet facilities, canteens and undercover viewing areas exist, making it a user-friendly venue.

This venue alone will cater for most of the matches, but the highlight will be the use of “The Gabba” for the final. However, whilst the draws are yet to be arranged, there are many suburban grounds as well as regional venues that could be used to take the games to the potentially huge spectator markets across the south-east Queensland regions, which include the Sunshine Coast, Greater Brisbane and even the Gold Coast. The bulk of the state’s population lives across these three areas which gives potential to generate big crowds if the marketing and promotion is done well enough.

The growth of the game in Queensland has been huge over the past couple of decades – heavily influenced by the ex-pat Victorians who historically moved to the south-east as well as the support for both the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns in the AFL. Whilst both teams have had lean years, they have also generated wide interest and support.

What happens after the IC20 remains to be seen. Queensland may or may not retain the event. However, if the state successfully hosts a memorable IC20 then the scope to host again remains. In fact, future incarnations of the event might also begin to travel across the state. Cazalys Stadium in Cairns, Riverway Stadium in Townsville and Harrup Park in Mackay are excellent venues and have all hosted AFL premiership or pre-season matches. Other excellent facilities can be found in Rockhampton, Wide Bat/Burnett and Toowoomba where large and healthy junior and senior Australian Football leagues already exist.

With the best men and women footballers coming to Maroochydore next July 25th to August 8th from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Oceania, some may feel a little let down that Melbourne – the Aussie Rules Mecca – is no longer the venue.

However, they can rest assured that Maroochydore will be an excellent alternative, not only for the quality of football facilities, but also the proximity to some of Queensland’s, and indeed Australia’s greatest scenery and attractions.

It is very possible that the move to Maroochydore is a shot in the arm for the International Cup and the game as a whole. Not just for IC20, but for the longer-term future of the event.
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Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore. | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.
Authored by: Harley Vague on Sunday, December 29 2019 @ 02:47 pm ACDT

The focus is indeed on Maroochydore and already and unfortunately this new initiate is largely a waste of time. Why? This new initiate is largely a waste of time.because the event is missing the prime ingredient and that is promotion. As of yet there has been no major release to the public. Hopefully that will come later. it appears this event will miss a great traditional opportunity and that is the half-time opening march-past before an AFL crowd. Hopefully we will see an announcement by the AFL, the Lions, the Queensland government before the event. Hopefully we will see something on television before the event not after the event which has largely been the case.

I'm sure Maroochydore will be popular like most other country locations but I don't see the International Cup itself advancing until somebody does some promoting of the event.

Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.
Authored by: Wesley Hull on Sunday, December 29 2019 @ 04:01 pm ACDT

I agree Harley, but I think that is a separate issue. The venue will have huge upside provided the AFL does the promotion well enough.

I watched from VERY close quarters AFL Cairns manage to lose their annual AFL premiership match. It wasn't the wet season rain in 2018 that caused it. It was years of receding crowd sizes due, primarily, to lack of promotion.

AFL Cairns will argue that it did plenty - but that flies completely in the face of any argument about the growth of the game in Cairns. Why would such a game drop if the game is - as they claim - growing each year. Makes no sense until you factor in marketing.

There is too much arrogance at AFL level that they are already loved, so marketing dollars can be saved by doing as little as possible.

I'm not talking so much TV, radio or print media - even social media. They all play a part. But when the clubs sent their players to meet kids and families at the different clubs it had a knock on effect to ticket sales. Locals became invested in the game. It made the other PR work better.

As soon as either the clubs, AFL or AFL Cairns stopped that, the game became distant. Cursory advertising doesn't work on it's own. It needs firepower of players to generate the excitement.

For Maroochydore to work, the Sunshine Coast has to be crawling with Lions and Suns players. They need to embrace the event in a very personal way. Link with the visiting international clubs and players and sell the event as an extension of the Queensland based clubs. Really get behind it with player interviews and advertisements using elite players. Use some marketing imagination rather than a very cursory "tick the boxes" method.

Had AFL Cairns done that, Townsville would not be the current owner of an AFL premiership match.

Imagine if Daniel Rich was on TV, asking viewers if they are coming to Maroochydore and finishing by saying " I am." be clever, not standard.

Over the initial years of the Cairns games, I was granted interview access to people like Jason Johannisen, Mitch Wallis, Bachar Houli, Malcolm Blight, Guy McKenna and we told their stories to help grow the Cairns game. By 2018 I was no longer granted that access as I wasn't important enough - the arrogance of the local AFL took over.

Let's hope that arrogance doesn't get in the way and they come up with a pretty exciting media campaign to support Maroochydore - which in itself will be a terrific venue.

I'm sorry if what I say offends AFL Cairns, or anyone else, but it certainly hurt a footy-loving community (of which I am one) when we lost a game that with some imagination could have stayed.

Let's put some collective pressure on the AFL, AFL Queensland, the Suns, Lions and local media to create something pretty amazing to sell what SHOULD be treated as a showcase of international talent that we are privileged to witness rather than an afterthought.

Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.
Authored by: Harley Vague on Monday, December 30 2019 @ 12:31 am ACDT

"The venue will have huge upside provided the AFL does the promotion well enough."

That's exactly my point and unfortunately I don't see it happening - it hasn't happened in the past and there are no signs of change.

Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.
Authored by: Harley Vague on Wednesday, January 08 2020 @ 01:48 pm ACDT
Maroochy…where? Oh, Maroochydore.
Authored by: Cam Homes on Friday, January 24 2020 @ 03:39 pm ACDT

I have to agree a bit with the sentiment expressed about the AFL's seemingly luke warm efforts in the past to promote the IC's. Unfortunately, I have this awful feeling that the AFL may even be a little bit relieved that IC20 isn't in Melbourne this year.

I really hope this is just the pessimist side of me coming out and that everybody concerned with running and promoting IC20 give it the status and promotion that it deserves.

Let's face it, the IC is in effect the non-Australian Amatuer World Cup of Aussie Rules. (actual National Teams playing). Whereas, I reckon the AFL tends to look at it as just another player pathway (unfortunately not a very bountiful one at that) to the AFL, ranking well behind the various Combines it carries out each year.

Lets just hope I'm wrong and we get hundreds of Queenslanders coming along as spectators and adopting and barracking for a country or two. Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow induce the QAFL teams/clubs all around Sunshine Coast/Brisbane to adopt and host a country for the time they are in Aussie. (a couple of dozen or more loud & rawcus supporters for each nation would add so much atmosphere to the whole competition.) Even umpire Yamug getting a bit of stick from the supporters wouldn't hurt either :-)

The organisers could be giving away several hundred free tickets to Suns/Lions matches to the locals as inducement to come and watch the IC matches.

Hope we'll continue to get all matches live streamed as was case last IC now that it is no longer happening in Melbourne (had a ready number of football commentators on hand then).

Despite all the above foreboding I am planning on driving up for IC20, just will take a day or two longer getting there.       Fingers Crossed.