NT Thunder will be playing in a new and improved two conference league according to a release by the AFL today baout the North East Australian Football League.
The AFL today announced that a North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) will be introduced in 2011, bringing together teams from NSW, Queensland, ACT and NT into one competition.
The new league will build upon the successful existing competitions of AFL Canberra and AFL Queensland.
In 2011, Team GWS will join current AFL Canberra teams to form the Eastern Conference, comprising seven clubs. The Gold Coast Suns’ feeder team will combine with existing QAFL teams to form the Northern Conference, comprising 10 teams, including NT Thunder.
AFL General Manager National and International Development, David Matthews, said the creation of the NEAFL followed a review of second tier competitions across Australia over the past two years.
He said the NEAFL will engage all 17 clubs in a new, additional competition which will significantly enhance the pathway for players and the opportunities for clubs in the ACT, NSW, QLD and NT.
"This is a unique and exciting competition and further enhances the AFL's presence in communities in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and NT. We think it sends an important message to players, coaches, umpires, volunteers and fans that there are vibrant and developing leagues and clubs in these markets," Mr Matthews said.
"As the keeper of the code, the AFL is committed to developing the game at all levels and we have worked closely with existing leagues and clubs to develop a practical model to grow the game.
"Throughout the extensive consultation process it was at the forefront of our minds that the AFL Clubs based in NSW and Queensland should play in their own backyards to stimulate further development in the regions"
The key features of the new competition are as follows:
• The NEAFL will consist of two conferences - the Northern Conference (Qld & NT teams) and the Eastern Conference (NSW & ACT teams)
• For the majority of the year teams will play other teams within their respective conferences
• A key point of difference between other State League is that the NEAFL will provide opportunities for "cross conference" games for all clubs to play games interstate or host interstate clubs
• NT Thunder in the Northern Conference will mean that Qld teams will continue to travel to the Territory for games
• Local clubs will continue to play for the awards and premiership success within their own conference but will have the additional opportunity to win the NEAFL Grand Final between the respective winner of each conference
• There will be increased AFL club content in each market, AFL Clubs will play each other 7 times during the season (5 times in their own state & 2 games interstate)
The chief executive of AFL Queensland, Richard Griffiths, said the NEAFL would further enhance the quality and profile of second tier football in the northern states and Northern Territory.
“Our state league clubs and players are looking forward to competing in this new exciting competition which is an extension of the talent pathway and will provide another avenue for players to aspire to the AFL competition,” he said.
Gold Coast Suns Football Manager, Marcus Ashcroft, also welcomed the new league format which he said would give local clubs an opportunity to participate at a higher level of the game.
“Our teams will be exposed to a wider audience and the local fans will get a good chance to see developing players and some good quality football in the community,” he said
The chief executive of Team GWS, Dale Holmes, said games in both Greater Western Sydney and Canberra would help the club connect with these communities and build its brand in the region.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with the NEAFL. This new competition will go a long way to promoting our game in these expanding markets. It really is a great result for football.
Sydney Swans General Manager of Football, Dean Moore, said the introduction of the NEAFL would not only be good for the Swans but for the game in the wider region.
“We’ve had a successful association with Canberra for a number of years now. This development enables us to maintain those well established links but also allows us to now compete against other AFL reserve grade teams,” he said.
“Importantly we can supplement our side with players from our newly formed QBE Sydney Swans Academy which will provide a wonderful opportunity for those boys to play football at a high standards and further develop their talents.”
Detailed information and diagrams can be found by heading to the AFL Website: