By Murray Wenzel Cairns Post
Images of Karmichael Hunt and THAT goal have been replaying on television screens around the country all weekend, giving Cairns extended exposure after another successful AFL fixture at Cazalys on Saturday.
And the AFL’s relationship with Cairns is set to escalate, with Richmond confirming on Saturday they would be returning as soon as November for a pre-season training camp.
AFL Cairns boss Gary Young said another AFL club would soon join them, while Collingwood has already visited Port Douglas earlier this season.
The Tigers are locked in to play their third relocated home game at Cazalys next season.
Mr Young said the Gold Coast’s thrilling victory over Richmond, which climaxed in the code-hopping Hunt kicking a goal after the siren to win, was the perfect scenario for the city’s sporting image.
“If the Tigers had won by three or four goals it would have been ho-hum. But we got this and we’ve seen the reaction,” he said.
“It was something special for AFL and for the city.”
Mr Young said the image of thousands of people sitting on the hill in shorts and a T-shirt would resonate with AFL fans in the south and convince them to make the trip next year.
“Cazalys was vibrant, it was alive and everyone was happy,” he said.
“And to get a few more at the game than last year (10,961 official crowd) shows it wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan thing.”
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna agreed, helped no doubt by the fact two of the fledgling club’s four wins have come in the Far North.
“It’s fantastic what Richmond do. We take our hat off to them. We’re rapt to provide AFL for the community and a massive bonus for us is our ability to win here,” he said.
McKenna said Cairns was squarely in the Suns’ plans for the future.
“I’m sure our club and AFL Cairns will get together to make sure it’s an annual event, if not with us, another club,” he said.
Former NRL referee Tim Mander, now assistant Minister for Sport, said the Cazalys facility and the city’s love for sport needed to be rewarded.
“Cairns is a great sporting city, and sport is an important ingredient in increasing tourism,” he said.
Mr Mander said a multi-sport approach was the way to go with Cazalys.
“Now they’ve got a world class facility, the world is their oyster. Cricket is an obvious one. But would they consider playing league, or soccer, or union here.”
Mr Mander opened the $2.5 million lighting upgrade before Saturday’s game.
Reprinted courtesy of Cairns Post http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/07/16/228555_local-news.html