IT'S ON: Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie during the AFL North Coast 2019 season.
IT'S ON: Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie during the AFL North Coast 2019 season.

North Coast AFL on the rise despite COVID set back

AUSSIE rules is on the rise on the North Coast, with more teams, more players and more action than ever before.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted sport participation across the country, but this trend has been bucked on the North Coast, as they are set for another season of growth.

The season is set to tip off on July 18, with Grafton Tigers and Northern Beaches Blues stepping up their numbers this year.

Grafton will field a full fleet, with women’s and reserve grade sides joining the under-17 and men’s squads for a run at the 2020 competition.

Grafton Tigers Geoff O'Connor fights for the ball close to the boundary line.
Grafton Tigers Geoff O'Connor fights for the ball close to the boundary line.

The Blues will add a senior first grade side this year after a successful return to reserves in 2019, while the women will also branch off from a joint side with Grafton last year.

Community Football Manager, Paul Taylor, said that the ongoing growth is extremely pleasing.

“Junior footy has been in a sharp growth phase across the region for the past five years. This growth is now having a positive impact on the number of people wanting to play senior footy, which is resulting in not only more players, but also more clubs and more teams,” Taylor said.

“The overall growth is a result of much sustained hard work from volunteer club administrators and coaches across the region and I’m ecstatic for them that we’re seeing such positive outcomes.”

Nambucca Valley Lions and Northern Beaches Blues do battle at the 2019 AFL North Coast junior finals.
Nambucca Valley Lions and Northern Beaches Blues do battle at the 2019 AFL North Coast junior finals.

Nambucca Valley Lions will become the second club in two years to re-join the competition, ending an eight year spell in the wilderness.

Interest in AFL within the Nambucca Valley has been growing rapidly since the formation of the junior club in 2018 and will go to a whole new level this season as the Lions play in Reserve Grade.

Northern Beaches, Nambucca Valley, and Grafton will be joined in the competition by traditional powerhouses Coffs Harbour Breakers, Sawtell Toormina Saints, and Port Macquarie Magpies.

Commencing on Saturday July 18, the season will comprise of 11 rounds of home and away footy, followed by a revamped finals series where the winners of two semi-finals will progress straight to the grand final.

Season deciders are set down for Saturday October 10 and Taylor said work is underway on the draw which will be published shortly.

“Registrations are open at all clubs with new and returning players always welcome. To find your local club go to play.afl and search by postcode,” Taylor said.



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