Cairns footy people reflect on a day last month that local juniors will never forget.
The AFL’s push into Far North Queensland isn’t just about players at the top end … it is also providing a big spin-off for players just starting out in the national game.
The first week of the school term saw history in the making for AFL Football in FNQ, with the first AFL premiership fixture between Gold Coast and Richmond on 17 July providing a backdrop for a mass of Auskick activities.
Local young players were involved by a vast array of events from the AFL Playground/Super Clinic to the halftime AFL Auskick matches.
AFL Cairns staff members, in conjunction with the Gold Coast Suns and Gold Coast Development Team, were able to spread the good news through 23 school assemblies and lunch time kick arounds throughout the Cairns region.
The news was spread to over 6000 students with over 2000 active participants in lunch time sessions.
Suns players Roland Ah Chee and Alik Magin participated in a lunch time kick around at Whitfield SS, with over 500 students crowding the boys for signatures and the opportunity to have a kick with them.
On the Friday afternoon before the historic AFL fixture a crowd of close to 2000 rolled into Cazaly’s Stadium in for a glimpse of some of their idols as the Richmond Tigers and Gold Coast Suns took it in turn to use the Cazalys surface for their final preparations.
The local fans were able to meet and greet their favorite players and snaffle a few signatures throughout the afternoon.
The youngsters were also able to get involved in the Super Clinic being held by AFL Cairns staff as well as the inflatable AFL Playground being run by Cairns favourite son Troy Clarke, now in charge of the AFL game development operation on the Gold Coast.
Finally, as more than 10,000 people turned out for the Suns–Tigers showdown, there was one last chance to put Auskick squarely in the spotlight.
More than 100 players represented their local clubs throughout five matches, with the all girls’ game between St Monica’s and North Cairns Tigers taking centrepiece.
The youngsters were able to strut their stuff, all hoping to impress their families, clubs, fans and idols and doing just that with some great aerial feats, freakish goals and great sportsmanship.
Finally, after the final siren rang to end their brief stay on the Cazaly’s turf, they did their lap of honour to a sea of waiting high fives. A day the youngsters of Far North Queensland will never forget.