Saturday 4 April, 2020
To the NT Footy Community,
I hope you are all keeping well and safe during this unusual time and draw confidence in knowing that we are all in this together and will come out the other side together also.
It's become apparent that footy is very much a way of life but that it's also a bit of a luxury that we deepen our appreciation for when we can no longer play, watch or enjoy it. After discussions and actions already taken by the NT Government, the AFL, and other stakeholders it is clear that we all share the same view; footy is here to stay, and it will play a key role in our community's recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
At this stage, though, I felt it important to update you on a couple of key things you might read in The NT News; specifically, around community football and the elite AFL games.
NT Community Football
As you know, we are currently at a standstill until at least the 31st of May; with the TIO Central Australian Football League (CAFL) in Alice Springs joining the Big Rivers Football League (BRFL) and Barkly Football League (BAFL) on a hiatus.
Members of our AFLNT community footy team will continue to stay in touch with all clubs across the three different leagues. The AFL has also provided every club across the country with a financial assessment tool to help them estimate the economic impact as a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent implications for the 2020 seasons.
We hope to have a more definite direction for the CAFL, BRFL and BAFL by the end of this month.
This week I also reached out to all our TIO NTFL clubs, as they will not be immune to the impacts of these changes either. Next week we will send all clubs across our four main leagues a survey that will help us start to gather data, information, impacts and concerns they have due to this situation.
This is a very uncertain time; we know our game will be impacted over the short and medium-term. We are going to have to grind this out over the next couple of years, so any work we can do together; as a League and a group of clubs; be it NTFL, CAFL, BAFL or BRFL will ensure we're up and about and ready to go once we can.
If you asked me whether the NTFL will start again in October or community football will get up and running in the dry season across our community competitions, at this stage, I would say yes, that I would like to think so. But things are always changing so there's a whole host of things we are thinking about; a shorter season, representative games, carnivals and the like. We are going to need to be patient and adapt our approach as the situation unfolds over the coming months.
As we all know, the AFL season is also on hold until at least the 31st of May.
I am in regular contact with the other AFL state CEOS and members of the AFL Executive, so I can tell you that things have progressed from the AFL being in crisis mode to now looking at options for how the 17-game 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season may roll out.
We had two games scheduled to be played in the NT this year; Melbourne vs Adelaide Crows in Alice Springs in May and then Gold Coast SUNS vs St Kilda in Darwin in June.
I am keeping close to both our home clubs; Melbourne and the SUNS, who have expressed a desire to keep an NT fixture.
The AFL is looking at a range of ideas, and one that we have floated is an AFL 'hub' concept; whereby we might have four to six AFL teams relocate to the NT for a month or so and play their match-ups against one another in a safe and controlled environment while taking advantage of our top facilities.
The NT Government is aware of this concept and the Gold Coast SUNS, our newest NT-affiliated team, are very supportive of it.
The more AFL footy in the NT, the better for all footy supporters, especially during a challenging time like we are currently experiencing.
Minister for Sport and Recreation, Lauren Moss MLA has said: "Our first priority is protecting Territorians from the coronavirus, so it (AFL games) would have to be at the right time and in line with health advice."
SUNS representative Craig Rowston told me;
"This is an exciting proposal that has the full support of the SUNS.
"We think it could be a win-win option for both the AFL and the Territory.
"As a club, the SUNS want what is best for the NT and will work with AFLNT and the NT Government to lobby for a raft of AFL games in Darwin."
This is one idea that the AFL is investigating, and it's nice to look forward to the opportunities that may be on the horizon.
I will update you again shortly, for now, please look after yourself and each other and adhere to all the government directives with regards to social isolation.