AFL champs confirm they'll be back in Cairns next year
The Western Bulldogs are set to make a triumphant return to the Tropical North next year following their remarkable 2016 winning season.
Close to 10,000 local footy fans are expected to pour through the gates to see the all-conquering Western Bulldogs play a fourth straight regular season home and away fixture at Cairns’ Cazalys Stadium next year.
The round 18 clash set down for 22 July between the reigning AFL premiers and Gary Ablett’s Gold Coast Suns will mark the seventh straight time Cairns has hosted an AFL premiership match.
The Western Bulldogs remain the toast of the AFL after beating the Sydney Swans in the grand final by 22 points earlier this month to claim the club’s first premiership cup since 1954.
The match has been moved back to an afternoon starting time of 4.30pm following the AFL’s experiment this season to trial an evening kick-off.
“The whole team is so pleased that Cazalys Stadium will host a seventh straight AFL premiership season match,” AFL Cairns boss Gary Young said.
“It’s a testament to those fans locally whose love for the game has influenced the return of top-flight football.”
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning is delighted the city will have further AFL content.
“Major events such as this play an important role in promoting Cairns on a national stage, supporting our tourism sector, supporting jobs and fostering community pride,” Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said.
“Since we last saw the Bulldogs, they’ve gone on to win a long-awaited premiership. So, this really will be our chance to see the cream of AFL talent right here in Cairns.
“As a Council, we invest many millions of dollars into grassroots sporting facilities every year to give every child the opportunity to play sport.
“This match will continue to give these young people the chance to see their heroes up close and hopefully will inspire the next generation of players to chase their dreams.”
AFL general manager of clubs and AFL operations Travis Auld said the love of AFL in Far North Queensland is clearly evident for all to see.
“North Queensland fans are passionate supporters of Australian Football, that’s seen through the participation numbers and the AFL talent the region has produced through the likes of Charlie Dixon, Jarrod Harbrow and Zac Smith,” Mr Auld said.
“It’s important to the growth of the game that regions, such as North Queensland, have access to the elite competition and see the superstars up close.
“It will be an exciting time for the Far North Queensland community as they will get the opportunity to celebrate the Western Bulldogs 2016 premiership success.
“The week leading into the match also provides AFL Cairns with a platform to engage the wider community through a series of events such as coaching sessions with presentations by AFL coaches, NAB AFL Auskick and junior football clinics for kids of all ages.”
Western Bulldogs CEO Gary Kent said “our players, staff and coaches have built a great connection with the Cairns community, and we look forward to strengthening that relationship again in 2017”.
The Gold Coast SUNS, meanwhile, have played in all seven AFL Premiership matches held at Cazalys Stadium.
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