Powerhouse back in the fold
AUSSIE RULES: One of the most successful clubs in the history of AFL North Coast senior footy will take to the field again in 2019 after 13 years out of action.
The Northern Beaches Blues, formerly the Woolgoolga Blues, will compete in the reserve-grade competition this season.
AFL North Coast football operations manager Paul Taylor said it was great the Blues were back in the fold.
"They are one of the traditional powerhouses of the competition,” Taylor said.
"They have won nine premierships and were the most successful club in the competition's history until the Saints won their 10th premiership in 2018.”
The Northern Beaches Blues fielded junior teams in their time out of the senior ranks and Taylor was hopeful the club would be back in first grade in a couple of years.
"We've had fantastic growth in the junior competition over the past three seasons and anticipate that the return of the Blues will be the start of a growth phase in the senior competition as players graduate to the older ranks,” he said.
In another massive boost for AFL in the region, the women's competition will be expanding from three to five teams, with the addition of the Blues and Grafton Tigers.
"The introduction of the women's competition last year added so much to our sport,” Taylor said.
"Their passion for the game really resonated with people and it was drawing people back to watch footy who haven't been around AFL for a long time.
"Some people think they have to be a superstar to be able to play but that's not true at all.
"A lot of the girls last year had never played before and are still developing their skills.
"Some women also want a sport where they get that physical contact and are able to tackle, so women's AFL is perfect for them.
"Many watch the AFLW competition on TV and develop an interest, then try the sport and are hooked.”
The AFL North Coast season is expected to begin on Saturday, April 6.