By Mark Perriman
The Byron Bay AFLs 9s Invitational is back for 2015 following success of last year’s inaugural event.
Nominations are now open for the two-day tournament, with teams set to battle it out for $20 000 total prize money at the Byron Bay Regional Sports and Cultural Complex on October 9 and 10.
The 9-a-side game provides a fast, free-flowing game to players seeking a social, non-contact alternative that is fun for all ages, genders and skill-levels.
In addition to Men’s, Women’s and Mixed categories, this year’s tournament will feature a Masters division, opening the door for mature-aged players to get in on the action at the famous seaside haunt.
AFL Queensland Participation Programs Coordinator Marc Seen said the idea for a Masters Division had come from player feedback.
“We brought in the Masters category because last year we had some players 35-pushing 40 coming up against guys who were much younger,” he said.
“From the feedback we received, we introduced it for them to feel a little more comfortable and relaxed during the event.”
“It also introduces a new range of teams and some extra spaces.”
In addition to the Masters, Seen said changes had also been made to the promotion and scheduling of the event.
“Most of the teams are all friends or old mates who are looking for an excuse to catch-up, which fitted in perfectly with that Byron Bay area,” said Seen.
“So this year we’ve been pitching as a little more of a footy trip.”
“We’ve tweaked it so that it’s on a Friday and Saturday, with a closing party that night, so that it gives them a little more social time.”
On the back of last year’s resounding success, Seen said the feedback he received from players was positive overall.
“We didn’t receive a single complaint over the weekend,” said Seen.
“It’s great to have the Byron competition recognised on a national scale, with increased interest from teams in Melbourne, Sydney and regional areas coming in for the weekend.”
With McDonald’s Australia jumping onboard for Australia’s AFL 9s community programs, Seen believes they will provide much needed support for game’s newest developmental pathway.
“I think they will be a good supporter. They sponsor a lot of the juniors, and from our perspective it will give us a big boost,” he said.
“We’ve always been looking for some sort of assistance in that category, so in a lot of instances they’ll be able to tie-in and support it through their branches and their networks.”