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Curtain-raiser in the Red Centre

Caitlin Nobes  May 25, 2018 10:26 AM

Story of the Redtails Football Club We spoke to Rob Clarke about the origin of the Redtails Football Club
We don’t often get the chance to play against each other, if ever, so when it does happen, it’s fairly competitive

IN PARTNERSHIP with the Melbourne Football Club, the Central Australian Redtails will host the Top End Storm in a curtain-raiser this Sunday at TIO Traeger Park, to be broadcast live around the country on Channel Seven.

Deemed the Heart of the Nation clash, the two sides will play ahead of Melbourne’s Round 10 match against the Adelaide Crows, commencing at 11.40am ACST (12.10pm AEST).

Redtails founder Rob Clarke said viewers can expect a fiery clash, with players from both in and around Alice Springs, and the Storm’s region of Darwin, set to take the field. 

“It’s the South vs the North,” he told 3AW Radio.

“We don’t often get the chance to play against each other, if ever, so when it does happen, it’s fairly competitive.”

The Redtails, a representative team in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), is made up of players from over 300 communities in the area.

Melbourne CEO Peter Jackson spoke of the partnership, which began in October 2017, and its aim to improve the lives of those within these remote locations.

“The Redtails have achieved significant results through the power of football,” Jackson said at the announcement of the Round 10 game in February.

“We look forward to growing our partnership to strengthen talent pathways, so that the local talent of Alice Springs can be showcased on the national stage.”

The event provides a fantastic opportunity for audiences from around the country to connect to the local community, with the match marking the beginning of a six-hour long broadcast.

An Aboriginal cultural ceremony will also take place between games, giving viewers insight into the strong ties between Aboriginal heritage and Australian Rules football.

While Territory’s talent will be on full display on the field, just as much will be standing on the sidelines.

Former North Melbourne player, current Darwin Buffaloes NTFL player-coach and NT Thunder player, Matt Campbell will coach the Redtails, while Austin Wonaeamirri will oversee the Storm.

A Tiwi Island product, Wonaeamirri played 31 games for the Demons in his four-year career, kicking 37 goals as a small forward.

AFL 2010 Rd 20 - Hawthorn v Melbourne
Wonaeamirri in action for Melbourne in 2010 (Photo: Michael Willson)

Both sides will wear specially designed guernseys for the clash – the Redtails’ was designed by local artist Curtis Haines, while the Storm’s was created by player Nathan Djerrkura – giving even more meaning to the occasion.

To attend, fans in Alice Springs will need a valid AFL entry ticket into TIO Traeger Park. General Admission tickets are still available at www.ntix.com.au.

Gates will open at 11am ACST, with the curtain-raiser beginning at 11.40am. The cultural ceremony will take place at 2.05pm local time, before the Melbourne versus Adelaide match commences at 2.50pm local time.

Channel Seven’s live broadcast of the day will start at 12pm AEST in Melbourne and 11.30am local time in Adelaide. Coverage in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane will begin from 10am on 7mate.