NT WILL BE 10TH TEAM IN 2009
A Northern Territory team will play in the AFL Queensland State League next year, AFL NT confirmed last Saturday night.
After months of consideration of the options of joining the SANFL, WAFL and AFLQ were weighed up, AFL NT chairman Bob Elix announced to the pre-game AFL function at Marrara that AFLQ was the option to be pursued.
AFL Queensland chief executive Richard Griffiths welcomed the decision, but cautioned that a number of issues relating to the NT’s entry still needed to be worked through.
The Federal Government is expected to make the official announcement and reveal full details of the NT’s involvement within the next month or two.
“We still have some things to talk to AFL NT about, but it is terrific news that a team will be joining our competition as it will add an exciting new dimension,” Griffiths said.
“The State League competition has improved in leaps and bounds over the past decade and it will be better again for the presence of the Northern Territory side.
“Our competition has developed into a very good breeding ground for AFL players of the future and I’m sure the NT boys will quickly discover that playing in the Velocity Sports Cup generates substantial opportunities.”
Griffiths was tight-lipped about any further specifics of the team’s involvement, but it is believed high profile games involving the NT side could be played in major Queensland regional centres, as well as Darwin and Alice Springs.
The presence of an NT team would eradicate the need for a bye, following AFLQ’s decision 12 months ago to re-admit the Western Magpies to the State League in 2009.
As part of an overall package involving men and women, the NT Storm netball team will also join the Australian Netball league.
The deal was struck after Energy Resources of Australia and Rio Tinto pledged $1 million over five years to give young Territorians the opportunity to compete interstate on the national stage.
Elix, who is also a Darwin alderman, and ERA chairman Dr David Klinger spoke about the plan at the curtain raiser to the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide clash at TIO Stadium.
A further $600,000 in funding for the program has come from the NT Government, Commonwealth Government, AFL, Pratt Foundation and Qantas.
Elix told the Northern Territorian that the program will provide structure for the sports careers of talented Territorians.
"It will bring great benefits to football, netball and the people of the Northern Territory,'' he said.
"We know that they are going to be great - more importantly it will put structure in place for their futures.''
Dr Klinger said that the announcement was very special.
"This is about providing a career pathway for our young players,'' he said. "They don't have to move away any more - they can train here.''
A condition of the program is that all players will need to be studying, training or working to be involved.