Nine school children from Ngukurr, east of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, have been rewarded with a five-day exchange in Melbourne for school
attendance. It is the first time the program, run by the Northern Territory AFL, has offered such a reward in the two years the program has been running.
The children were thrilled to be meeting AFL players Michael Long and Steven Koops. ‘Obviously it was very difficult for the Ngukurr community to
select from all the kids that are participating, but these nine have been chosen based on their school attendance,’ said the AFLNT’s Joel Kelly.
Footy is bringing serious money into the Territory with its inclusion as a venue for pre-Season and Premiership matches says John Ah Kit, the NT’s
Sport and Recreation Minister. The Western Bulldogs booked in excess of $250,000 in travel bookings for their game in Darwin with Qantas putting on
two extra flights, with a ‘week trip’ being heavily promoted. The Bulldogs anticipate this will grow to more than $1.1 million next calendar year. In addition
to this Port Adelaide supporters came up in significant numbers and are keen to come back again.
Over 45,000 people attended the AFL games this year at Alice Springs and Darwin which compares more than favourably with events such as
international cricket and the V8s. In addition the timing of the footy games helps lengthen the tourism season into August at one end and back into
February-March at the other. There are big community benefits as well with community clinics, workshops and charity events.
In future the Territory will host a premiership game every season, starting with the Western Bulldogs-Port Adelaide clash in round 20 with a night match
in August. There will be an annual Wizard Home Loans Cup match in Darwin, with a Wizard Home Loans Regional Challenge match in Alice Springs
and an annual community camp by an AFL premiership side to allow local players and officials to learn from national sides. Finally a game between an
AFL side with an Aboriginal All Star team is planned in alternate years starting in 2005 through to at least 2007.