THE Melbourne Football Club is pleased to be part of the AFL-Northern Territory Government announcement that will see the Club play a further two home games in the Top End over the next two Toyota AFL Premiership seasons in 2015-16.
The Club is no stranger to the Territory, having played a NAB Challenge match against Geelong in February and making history in the Indigenous Round, playing Port Adelaide at TIO Traeger Park Oval - the first home and away match in Alice Springs. The round 16 game against Fremantle Dockers on Saturday night at TIO Stadium in Darwin marks the third visit this year to the Northern Territory and the fifth consecutive year of playing in Darwin.
Melbourne Football Club CEO Peter Jackson said the Club was pleased to be considered as the home team for the next two years.
“Melbourne Football Club has had a long association with the Northern Territory, through champion players such as Aaron Davey, and now Dom Barry, who made his AFL debut last round. Melbourne also has NT links via its partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health Unit, which is working on public health campaigns to eliminate trachoma eye disease in Central Australia and remote Indigenous communities," he said.
“It was the strength of these relationships, and our community work in partnership with AFLNT that has hopefully earned the respect of the Northern Territory Government and local football communities."
Jackson also thanked Northern Territory Sports and Recreation Minister, the Hon. Matt Conlan for his support and encouragement for Melbourne to be the team of choice for the Top End.
“Minister Conlan has a clear vision for the game in the Northern Territory, and we were honoured to be part of the first game in Alice Springs back in May, and this two-year renewal will ensure our Club has a strong footprint in Northern Australia," he said.
“We and the AFL like to think that AFL football is the people's game, and if we are serious about that, we need to take our game to as many people as we can, and the Melbourne Football Club is pleased to be taking the game to the Territorians.
“The ability to play games in Darwin and Alice Springs also reinforces our commercial relationship with Tourism NT, and as many Victorians may know, Darwin during our winter is probably Australia’s best kept secret that more people need to enjoy. The ability to watch our team play, as well as visit a truly unique and unforgettable part of Australia, should be on every Melbourne supporter’s bucket list.
“We would also like to thank the AFL and AFLNT for providing their support and advice in ensuring our Club plays in the Top End for a further two years."
NT Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing Matt Conlan said: "This is a fantastic win, both for the Territory and the AFL game."
"Territorians will continue to experience the thrill of seeing AFL stars in action live at local venues, and the Melbourne Demons will keep building support in the NT as their second base, playing two home premiership games a year in the Territory.
"Our new agreement with the Demons will also further promote the Territory as a must-visit holiday destination through our sponsorship of the club through our 'Do the NT' branding."
The Melbourne Football Club’s involvement in the Northern Territory includes:
In December 2012, the Club held an 11-day training camp at the Australian Defence Force’s Robertson Barracks in Darwin, along with a 32km hike through Kakadu National Park. The Club also undertook an Australia Post AFL Community Camp in Alice Springs and runs a number of community programs including Read Like A Demon. The Club has also visited remote communities Lajamanu, Nyrippi and Santa Teresa, along with football clinics in Tennant Creek and Katherine.
In 2014, the Club used a design by a local Nyrippi artist for the Indigenous Round jumper and drafted local Alice Springs footballer Nicolette 'Sissy' Dunne for the 2014 AFL Women’s Exhibition match.