Coffs AFL kicks off

THE announcement that Sydney and St Kilda will be playing in Coffs Harbour this Saturday night as part of the NAB Challenge promises a high-quality affair for the large crowd expected to attend at BCU International Stadium.

Taking to the field will not only be two teams that finished in the top six in 2010 but among the on-field talent will be eight players who have been named as All-Australians, two No.1 draft picks and dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes.

With tickets to the outer ground on Saturday night priced at only $10 for adults and $2 for children aged six to 14, AFL (NSW/ACT) regional manager for Northern NSW, Mark Heaney, is expecting a crowd in excess of 5000.

“When you consider the local support for the Swans and the fact that they’re taking on St Kilda who have been in the grand final for the past two years, it should be a high-quality game,” Heaney said.

“Having an established Melbourne team come to Coffs Harbour is a real bonus and to have them playing against one of the local favourites is a great result.”

Heaney said that aside from seeing some of the best players in the country in Coffs, he’s asking every kid who attends to take a football along.

“A tradition of the game is being able to go on to the field after the game and have a kick,” he said.

“Once the players are off the field on Saturday night and the second siren is blown, anyone is allowed on to the ground to have a kick of the footy.”

Heaney admitted that during the next few days he will be busier than at any other time of the year but he was confident that the work will be worth it.

Aside from the big game, Heaney will be organising the two curtain-raisers that will feature the best players on the Mid North Coast in the under-13s and under-15s.

The AFL’s indigenous program PACE will also be launched on Saturday night while a series of development programs and a coaching forum will be held where locals can learn from some of the best in the business.

At the end of the day, though, the real excitement is about seeing an AFL match played in Coffs Harbour for the first time since 2003 when Sydney played Carlton.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Heaney predicted.

“There’s been a bit of a buzz about town right from the very start when this match was first announced.

“A few people have been hanging out for this game and now it’s finally going to be here.”

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