AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is delighted to announce that despite the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on community sport, the 2020/21 TIO NTFL season will kick off on schedule on Friday 2 October.
The action begins with a historic Friday night clash between Waratah and the Palmerston Magpies as we ‘flick the switch’ on the new lights at Gardens Oval.
Then on Saturday 3 October, a primetime grand final rematch between Nightcliff and St Mary’s will be the feature at TIO Stadium.
Round 2 will welcome the first game under lights at Darwin Mazda Nightcliff Oval between the Tigers and Waratah. Then in Round 3, the Women’s Premier League Grand Final rematch between Southern Districts and Waratah will play out at Norbuilt Oval.
That’s just a handful of the many highlights of the exciting Senior and Under 18 fixtures released today.
See here for the 2020/21 TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League fixture (fixture updated on 15 Sep 2020)
See here for the 2020/21 TIO NTFL Women’s Premier League fixture (fixture updated on 15 Sep 2020)
From Freds Pass to Bathurst Island, a total of seven venues will host Men’s Premier League action this season with every team playing 18 games each in the home and away rounds before a top-five finals series culminates in the grand final on Saturday 20 March 2021.
The Women’s Premier League competition features nine teams across 18 rounds, and in 2020/21 it will also move to a top-five finals series, with the Grand Final scheduled for Saturday 13 March 2021. The change to the finals structure will appropriately reward the team that finishes atop the ladder at the end of the minor rounds.
As announced on 17 July, this season’s fixture also features a full competition bye the weekend of Saturday 23 January 2021 as we see the return of the famous ochre, black and white guernsey for NTFL representative footy.
AFLNT is also awaiting news of the 2020 AFL Grand Final and is likely to alter fixtures once the details are known so that NTFL footy does not clash with the biggest day on the AFL calendar.
The aim of the fixtures in 2020/21 has been to give clubs as much alignment as possible across their senior grades.
AFLNT’s community football department worked tirelessly to deliver the different key priorities each club presented and satisfy fixture requests for all clubs while keeping the overall fan experience at the forefront.
All clubs were invited to provide feedback on a draft fixture, with the responses being overwhelmingly positive.
An effort to create as much alignment across the competition means that some teams will play each other closer together than others.
Round 1 has been earmarked for the competition’s major sponsor and the NT’s favourite local insurer, TIO, who enters its third decade of supporting the Territory’s favourite sport.
Round 7 will once again be Indigenous Round with Darwin Buffaloes and Wanderers playing in the ‘Nungalinya Cup’ for the second consecutive season. This match will be featured in the primetime 7:30pm timeslot at TIO Stadium on Saturday 14 November.
Nightcliff, Palmerston Magpies, Southern Districts and Waratah football clubs will all host six home games each. The Tiwi Bombers will play four matches on the Island, and Division 1-only clubs have a larger share of home games due to having lesser demands for alignment.
Wanderers Football Club and Waratah Football Club will also share hosting rights to the traditional Foundation Cup clash on Tuesday 26 January.
Home games this season will see the same teams competing across all grades, and in most cases will feature back-to-back games from U18 Girls through to the Men’s Premier League.
A total of nine Premier League tripleheaders will be played at TIO Stadium. Six of them are exclusively men's games, while the remaining three will include a Women’s Premier League fixture before or after two men’s matches.
Two of the Men’s Premier League tripleheaders also feature a Women’s Premier League match prior, so fans will certainly get their fix of top quality footy.
Where Under 18s teams have not been able to be aligned with their senior sides, they will feature in the prime Friday night timeslots at 7:45pm, with a total of 26 Friday night Under 18 matches (inclusive of Boys & Girls) to be played across the 18 rounds.
AFLNT Manager of Community Football & Club Development, Emily Wastle-Hopkins said she believed the fixture it is reflective of the feedback clubs provided and will contribute to a positive fan experience in season 2020/21.
“We’d like to thank the clubs for their input this season. Despite being in a position to release the fixtures earlier than in previous seasons, the overall process has taken a lot longer, which we believe has helped us achieve a positive result for players, umpires, volunteers and fans alike.
“It was clear to us that the alignment of grades was the number one priority for the League to address. And we have been able to achieve the best possible result on this front within the competition structure in which we operate,” she said.
“While it is not possible to attain this across all 18 rounds, clubs will see this alignment reflected clearly in their fixtures, with home games featuring the same opposition club across all grades.
"And on the occasions where we have had to split a club across multiple venues it's only happened a maximum of three times to the affected clubs,” she said.
To date, there are a total of six themed rounds assigned for the season, beginning in Round 1 with TIO, followed by Umpiring Round a fortnight later; an opportunity for players and spectators alike to recognise the hard work and dedication showed by the NTFL’s 15th club, the umpiring group.
The NTFL and Towards Zero will partner again in Round 8 to deliver important road safety messages before the holiday period.
Heritage Round in Round 15 will see traditional rivals go head-to-head right across the League.
And AFLNT is pleased to continue partnering with the NOMORE Campaign for Round 17, highlighting the vital role football has to play in promoting positive family, community and social behaviour.
In 2020/21, AFLNT has also released a Senior & Under 18s fixture card for all NTFL clubs so that fans won’t miss out on any of their club’s action!
Please note, the Women’s Division 2 and Junior Competition fixtures will be released in September.
For more information regarding the Junior dates for 2020/21 TIO NTFL season, please see here for the attached 2020/21 TIO NTFL calendar.