Community football ambassador, Gary Ablett, runs his eyes over the state’s community competitions.
I’m very excited to become the AFL Queensland Community Football Ambassador.
Community is a really important part of footy, and something that is very close to my heart.
The great thing about community footy is that everyone can get involved, as a player, coach, volunteer, umpire or spectator, there’s something for you.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a Sherrin in your life, or you were born with one in your hand, anyone can find their place in the community footy world.
At the heart of it, football is all about learning a new skill, making new friends and enjoying yourself and community football embodies all of these experiences.
Community footy gives everyone an opportunity to find their fit and get the most out of the sport, regardless of who they are.
The growth of footy in Queensland is really exciting.
If you take a drive around most Queensland towns on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll see people out having a kick or playing footy.
It all starts at the grassroots level, and from what I’ve seen; there are plenty more good things to come for AFL in Queensland.
This year is going to be a big one for competitions across the state, and here’s a snapshot of how things are looking as the season gets underway.
SEQ: Last year’s Division one premiers, Western Magpies, are looking good as round one of the Allied Pickfords Cup approaches, but there will be plenty of clubs hot on their heels.
Mayne is looking to take a step up the ladder this season, alongside local rivals Wilston grange.
Gold Coast teams Palm Beach and Surfers Paradise could also be in the mix come September, with Sunny Coast sides Noosa and Maroochydore on the up as well.
It will be interesting to see how the UQ Red Lions go in their first Division one season, after moving up from division two this year.
Cairns: The Cairns competition is in its fourth week this week, and the competition is still wide open. Last year’s premiers, the Cairns Saints, are looking good again. North Cairns could be their major competition, after starting strong this season. The Cairns City Lions and South Cairns Cutters also look to be improving this year.
Capricornia: Defending champions, the Boyne Island/Tannum Sands Saints, will be among the Capricornia favourites again this season, after a strong pre-season. Gladstone will be among the flag favourites also, with plenty of talent. The Yeppoon Swans could be the big movers this season, after finishing fifth last season, having picked up some good recruits in the off-season.
Darling Downs: The Tigers are deserved favourites, looking for a fourth-straight premiership in the Darling Downs competition this weekend. It was a rocky start for the defending champions, who went down to fierce rivals South Toowoomba in round one. Dalby had a strong win over competition newcomers, Chinchilla, to start their 2013 campaign and should be in the mix at the end of the season. Warwick, University and South Burnett kicked off with wins and could be contenders this season too.
Mackay: The Mackay City Hawks have started well this season and will definitely be around at the pointy end of the season. The Moranbah Bulldogs and Eastern Swans are on their way up and will also be likely finals contenders this year.
North Queensland: The Townsville AFL season is already underway, kicking off after the Festival of Football last month. The 2012 premiers, the Hermit Park Tigers, have started strong and will be among the September contenders again this season. The University Hawks could be the dark horse this season, and I expect the Curra Swans and Townsville City Lions to improve again this season.
Wide Bay: This is going to be a hotly contested competition in 2013. With the Maryborough Bears leaving the competition, there are four teams in the running for the flag. The two favourites are the Hervey Bay Bombers and the Waves, but in a small competition, the prize could be anyone’s.
Regardless of the final results, one thing is for sure: there will be plenty of good footy being played by men, women and juniors across the Sunshine State.
Have a great start to the season; I’ll be back mid-season to take a look at how everyone is tracking!