By Beth Newman
AFL CEO, Andrew Demetriou, headed down to Byron Bay for the unveiling of the Cornell Family AFL fields on Wednesday.
The fields form part of the Byron Regional Sports and Cultural Complex, named after influential Byron Bay couple, John Cornell and Delvene Delaney.
Demetriou, joined by Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson and Delaney, said the venue could potentially become a venue for AFL community camps or NAB Regional Challenge matches.
“I guarantee there’ll be a queue to come to the Byron Bay complex,” he said.
“You could certainly play NAB regional challenge game here.
In an emerging market, Demetriou said the development of the Byron facility would only boost growth of Australian Rules in the Northern Rivers region.
“It’s great to give young people more options,” he said.
“A facility like this ensures we’ve got more chance of getting more young people in the game.
“Wherever we invest with local government, you get a return on the investment.
“I’ve got no doubt with a facility like this, we’re going to see some rapid growth.”
Delaney said she and John, lifelong footy fans, were honoured to have their names associated with a local footy field, which will be the home ground for the Byron Bay Magpies.
“My big sister and I used to sit on top of our chook paddock to support our local team, and there began my love of Aussie Rules football,” she recalled.
“Then I met the love of my life, John Cornell, who was an Aussie Rules aficionado and from that day on, our winter weekends were planned around who was playing who, when and where. “
“To this day that thread of passion for Aussie Rules between us has never been broken.”
Diehard AFL fan, Mayor Richardson said there is nothing better than kicking a ball around, and nowhere better than Byron.
“Our region embraces outdoor sports, health and fitness and is a natural choice for AFL,” he said.
“We look forward to developing a new generation of sports stars and welcome today’s AFL sports stars to the fields for training camps and matches. The new partnership will also be a great boost to the local economy.”
He also thanked Demetriou for taking the time to view the fields and paid tribute Northern Rivers Regional Manager Trent Ryan for his dedication to program development for local youth.
“Bring on the footy season,” Mayor Richardson quipped.