Clubs have been given their date with destiny
The AFL North Coast senior competition draw has been released and will ensure another a bumper year of footy in the region.
Northern Beaches Blues (formerly Woolgoolga Blues) are welcomed back to the competition after a 13-year hiatus. The Blues will field a team in reserve grade and have also joined forces with the Grafton Tigers to enter a women's team. And all four grades will comprise four teams.
Community football manager Paul Taylor said the second consecutive year of growth in senior footy had been extremely well received.
"At a time when most sports are struggling to maintain their numbers in regional areas, the advent of a new club and new teams has generated real excitement within the senior competition,” Taylor said.
"Our junior competition has experienced unparalleled growth in the past three years and this is now starting to extend to the senior competition.”
Northern Beaches and Grafton will play all their matches at the same venue each week, so the two clubs will share home grounds and travel together. Rivals Sawtell Toormina Saints and Coffs Harbour Breakers have foregone one home match against Grafton/Northern Beaches to ensure there's plenty of AFL content at each location which will help with future growth in both areas.
"The season hasn't even started yet and already the hallmark of 2019 is clubs working together to grow the code. Experience tells us that this is the single biggest factor to achieving sustainable growth and the clubs are to be commended for the mature approach that each has adopted.”
Key features of the 2019 season include:
. Sawtell Toormina Saints unfurling the 2018 Premiership flag at Richardson Park in round 1 (April 13) when they host the Port Macquarie Magpies.
. The introduction of the Northern Beaches/Grafton joint venture women's team which will take on Coffs Harbour Breakers in their first competitive outing in round 1 (April 13) at Ellem Oval, Grafton.
. The return of senior AFL to Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga, in round 4 (May 11) when Northern Beaches Blues and Grafton Tigers host Coffs Harbour Breakers.
. Four matches of footy in each of two locations in every round of the season, with the first match starting at 10am and the last match finishing at 5pm.
. A three-week finals series in each grade starting on August 24.
. The grand finals of each grade being staged at the revamped C.ex Coffs International Stadium on September 7.
The season gets under way on April 13.