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Gold Coast SUNS to take AFL Premiership games to the Northern Territory

Gold Coast SUNS to take AFL Premiership games to the Northern Territory
October 17, 2019

Struggling AFL expansion club the Gold Coast SUNS will move one of its Premiership games to Darwin every season for the next four years, under a deal with the Northern Territory Government and AFL Northern Territory.

Facing dwindling crowds and declining local interest in its home city, SUNS Chief Executive, Mark Evans stated “we are thrilled to have Darwin confirmed as a Gold Coast SUNS Talent Academy Zone and to highlight our commitment to the region and with thanks to the support of the NT Government and AFL we are pleased to announce that we will play AFL games in Darwin.

“We share AFLNT’s vision of increasing participation and seeing more Northern Territory talent on AFL and AFLW lists and to drive this we have committed to delivering programs and creating pathways to foster talent and develop people.

As part of the agreement, which starts in 2020, the SUNS will be heavily focused on growing the game in the clubs newly allocated Academy Zone, providing pathways for talented male and female athletes to join the club.

Explaining the importance of the deal, Northern Territory Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss stated “this new agreement with the AFL will see top-quality games continue to be played in Darwin over the next four years, providing a boost to the local economy as well as supporting strong grassroots footy and clear pathways for Territory players looking to make it at elite levels.

“AFLNT’s new player pathways plan aligns with this new agreement and signals a new chapter for Territory footy.

“It will help uncover and develop talent across the Territory, giving aspiring young players more opportunities to play in the AFLW and AFL.

From the 2021 NAB AFLW season, the SUNS will reserve six spots on their AFLW list for Northern Territory players, assuring that the best local female footballers have an opportunity to perform at the elite level.

This sits in conjunction with the endorsement the AFL Commission gave two weeks ago; that with Darwin provisioned as a SUNS Academy zone, the club has the ability to pre-sign players without having to work through the Draft bidding system and an increase to include 10 players on its rookie list.

As part of the agreement, the club has also indicated it will look to select talented footballers from the NT for available NEAFL (male) and Super Series (female) spots on their playing list.

The club will also look to build on the important role it plays in the community by assisting AFLNT in the delivery of footy programs, as well as continuing to provide education and support to local coaches and professional development to AFLNT high-performance staff.

Image: Darwin's TIO Stadium will host one of the Gold Coast SUNS Premiership games for the next four years.

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19th May 2019 - New Darwin rugby league stadium gets official opening

28th March 2019 - Metricon extends venue naming rights partnership with Gold Coast SUNS

6th February 2019 - AFLNT to consider bans for spectators and players who abuse umpires

28th February 2017 - Gold Coast Suns announce Mark Evans as new Chief Executive

13th April 2015 - Federal Government backs new Gold Coast Suns administration and training base

16th July 2014 - AFLNT pushes for redevelopment of Darwin’s TIO Stadium

20th July 2011 - AFL fails to draw crowds in Darwin

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