AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is excited to announce the 2019 Quitline Regional Challenge Carnival will take place on the opening weekend of the upcoming TIO Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) season.
The first weekend in October will see teams from remote communities travel into Darwin to play in the Challenge, which is a reinvigoration of the ‘NTFL Umpires’ Carnival’ which started in 1967 and was last held in 2010.
Cancer Council SA’s Quitline has come on board as the major sponsor, identifying the Carnival as a way to educate at-risk community participants about Quitline’s free phone and online support services to empower people to quit smoking.
AFL personality and Territorian Gilbert McAdam will be in attendance for the weekend as the Ambassador for the Regional Challenge.
Communities who currently have AFLNT remote projects in place will be nominated to participate along with invitations to other remote communities/regions, with the total number of teams capped at 16 for the 2019 challenge.
The 2019 Challenge is for men’s teams; however, AFLNT will look to expand to include a women’s division in the future.
Teams will play three minor round games of two 15-minute halves and then be split into two pools for the finals, resulting in a Pool A and Pool B champion. The final of Pool A will be played at TIO Stadium on Sunday in between the two NTFL Men’s Premier League games, making for a thrilling day of Territory footy.
All games will be played on TIO Stadium, TIO Oval 2 and the Marrara Cricket Ground (MCG) and MCG Oval 2 across the weekend.
The winning team in the Pool A Grand Final will receive $1,000 in prize money and be awarded free team registration into the next Regional Challenge.
The challenge will also provide umpire development opportunities with teams invited to bring an aspiring umpire from their community to be part of the festivities and also receive formal training and qualifications while in Darwin.
Team registrations close on Wednesday 25 September, and so far interest has been received from teams right across the Northern Territory; including Gove, Ltytente Apurte, Maningrida, Mutijulu, Ngukurr, the Tiwi Islands, Wadeye and Yuendumu.
AFLNT CEO Stuart Totham said he was thrilled that remote football would be returning to Darwin in the opening round of the NTFL season.
“We’re excited to have teams from all of our regions coming and playing in what is the biggest spread of remote communities coming together for a football carnival. It’s a real celebration of our football projects and our remote talent.
“I have fond memories of the Umpires’ Carnival growing up in the Territory, and this is a version which will showcase remote footy to a whole new audience.
“It’s a great way to help launch the NTFL season and the Regional Challenge Grand Final on Sunday in between the Waratah versus Wanderers and St Mary’s versus Palmerston Magpies Men’s Premier League games will be a real highlight, so I encourage everyone to mark that weekend out in their diary to come and watch it.
“We thank Quitline for their support of this initiative and for identifying that community footy is a unique spectacle and we extend our thanks to all the other partners in communities that are supporting teams in getting into Darwin, including Arnhem Land Progress and Territory Transit for their financial backing also.” Totham said.
Cancer Council SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Prevention and Programs Manager Peter Thomas said Quitline is dedicated to helping all people, but particularly Indigenous Australians quit smoking.
“Cancer Council SA’s Quitline is thrilled to be the major sponsor of the AFL Northern Territory Regional Challenge, which brings together the best and brightest football talent from across the region.
“Research from Cancer Australia shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost twice as likely to develop and/or die from lung cancer as non-Indigenous people.
“Being smoke free ensures elite sporting performance and through partnering with the event, we have a fantastic vehicle to get the smoke free message out there to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Here at Cancer Council SA, we are passionate about reducing the smoking rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and thank the AFLNT for this fantastic opportunity to get the smoke free message out there to those communities who will benefit from it most,” he said.