Luke Meldrum (Lismore) and Karim Kaufmann (Byron) contest possession in a Summerland AFL game this year.
Luke Meldrum (Lismore) and Karim Kaufmann (Byron) contest possession in a Summerland AFL game this year.

Queensland new link for Nth Rivers

By Darren Moncrieff sport@northernstar.com.au LOCAL AFL football will now look north instead of south for direction, with AFL Queensland set to formalise arrangements to oversee the development of the game on the Northern Rivers.

As revealed in The Northern Star in August last year, a new body staffed by locals will be formed to converge and administer the senior Summerland AFL and Far North Coast Junior AFL competitions.

That body, AFL Northern Rivers, will become an affiliate of AFL Queensland.

AFLQ will assume responsibility for the area from Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, to Maclean, encompassing Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Casino, Nimbin and Yamba.

A meeting between the two bodies in the next few weeks will fine-tune the arrangement.

It's the most significant development in local football since competition started in the early 1980s.

"It's probably the biggest change we've had in the region since we began. It's certainly the most pro-active move I've seen," SAFL president Neil Winterbon said.

"When it's all nutted out, we'll outline what we need and they'll tell us what they expect from us.

"Hopefully, we'll have someone here from AFLQ on a full-time basis.

"We'll definitely benefit from the arrangement, that's for sure."

The soon-to-be former arrangement with the Sydney-based AFL-NSW/ACT was problematic, due more to distance more than anything else, whereas the affiliation with AFLQ makes sense, economically and strategically.

With the AFL's push to have a club located on the Gold Coast by 2010 whether that is the beleaguered Kangaroos or a new entity the Northern Rivers is well placed to reap the benefits of an AFL club nearby.

The Roos will play four games on the Gold Coast next year as part of a deal with the AFL. They also have less than a month to decide whether they will relocate permanently to the Gold Coast by 2010.



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