Contributed by: Wesley Hull Sunday, July 10 2016 @ 06:11 am ACST
Territory football fans will be able to see four more AFL matches on home turf following a new deal between the NT Government and AFL to stage two premiership matches in each of the 2017 and 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership seasons.
Chief Minister Adam Giles announced the agreement during Saturday’s clash between the Melbourne Demons and Fremantle Dockers at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
Mr Giles said the Territory Government was pleased to continue its partnership with the AFL and Melbourne, which will be the “home” club for all Territory matches.
“Melbourne has embraced the Territory through its support of community football, indigenous development and investment attraction,” Mr Giles said.
“AFL matches in Darwin and Alice Springs showcase the Territory to footy fans around the world.
“There are spin-off economic benefits from people travelling to attend the games and tourism promotion.
“Young footballers also get the chance to see their heroes in action, which encourages participation and shows there is a pathway from local leagues to the highest level.”
Mr Giles said the Territory Government was contributing $1.6 million per year to bring AFL to the Top End and Central Australia.
One match will be played each year at TIO Stadium in Darwin and one at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs.
Melbourne Football Club CEO Peter Jackson said the club was thrilled to continue its strong association with the NT Government.
“We are extremely proud of this partnership, which is now in its seventh year,” Jackson said.
“We see it as an important partnership for the whole of club, both on and off the field.
“With the launch of the AFL Next Generation Academies earlier this year, we see our club aligned to the Alice Springs region.
“Our alignment is deeper than playing matches in the Territory for premiership points; the Next Generation Academy will enable us to be actively involved in introducing children of all backgrounds to the game and provide aspirational pathways for players, coaches, umpires and administrators.
“We will work closely with AFL Northern Territory to utilise staff based in the region and take advantage of the great programs already in place.”
Jackson said the partnership provides the club with a great opportunity to build its relationship with the local Northern Territory community.
“Over the past seven years, we have been in partnership with University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health Unit in driving trachoma elimination programs rights across the NT,” he said.
“We look forward to continuing this program in 2017 along with our Read Like a Demon Program that provides a great way to engage children in schools in reading.
“Our club continues to enjoy a strong partnership with the Northern Territory through our partnership the NT Government and Tourism NT and we look forward to building on our relationships in 2017.”
AFL Northern Territory CEO Michael Solomon said it was great for football fans in the Territory to be able to have four AFL premiership matches to attend over the next two years.
“The two-year renewal of the agreement between the Melbourne Football Club and the NT Government ensures we continue to build strong links between local communities, grassroots football and the elite level,” Solomon said.
“We have worked closely with the NT Government and with the Demons to reach this agreement and to benefit both organisations, so we are delighted to be extending our partnership once again.
“Our gratitude goes to everyone involved inclusive of the Melbourne Football Club, the NT Government, the AFL and the people of AFLNT who have worked tirelessly to deliver this outcome.”