A carnival of football will headline the return of Australia’s game this year as the 2014 NAB Challenge rolls into every state and territory with 18 games in 18 day.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill today launched ticket sales for the Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast SUNS February 23 match at Tony Ireland Stadium (3:40pm), one of 18 consecutive matches to be played over the next three weeks.
The AFL’s new-look pre-season competition will see the game’s biggest names and brightest young stars compete at venues around the country while each region will have the chance to engage in a range of community and grassroots events as part of the carnival of football in each location.
Tony Ireland Stadium will host a number of community events including a coaching forum, NAB AFL Auskick clinic, club signing sessions and activities for the kids.
The Gold Coast SUNS Academy North Queensland and Central Queensland sides will play an inter-squad match on Saturday morning, while the Australian Defence Force team will take on AFL Townsville’s representative team in a curtain raiser to Sunday’s big game.
NAB Challenge matches will be played in all nine states and territories across the 18 days of competition, with matches again being taken to non-traditional venues that don’t regularly host AFL football during the regular season – Townsville (QLD) Blacktown (NSW), Joondalup (WA), North Ballarat (Vic), Richmond Oval (SA), Alice Springs (NT), Townsville (Qld), Wagga Wagga (NSW) and Wangaratta (Vic).
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the game at Tony Ireland Stadium was set to be a sell-out.
“The NAB Challenge match is going to be a great game with a showdown between the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Suns for a Queensland derby,” Cr Hill said.
“We are expecting the game to be a sell-out with 10,000 tickets available, so I would encourage people to get in early to avoid disappointment.
“Last year Townsville had the second highest attendance at a NAB pre-season match in the country with almost 8,000 people and it is set to be bigger this year with the only two Queensland teams going head-to-head. It is definitely a game not to be missed.
“This is a very exciting match for Townsville and it will be televised live on Fox Footy across the nation which is a great opportunity for our city. But the best place to see the game will be at the stadium to cheer your favourite Queensland team to victory.”
AFL General Manager – Football Operations, Mark Evans, said this year’s new streamlined format and heavy community focus were key components of the revamped pre-season competition.
“This year’s NAB Challenge really is a carnival of football with the AFL rolling into town right around the country.
“We think supporters will enjoy 18 games in 18 days and the next three weeks will not only give fans the opportunity to see how their club is shaping up in 2014, it’s also a chance to take the elite competition to many regions that wouldn’t normally get the chance to see their AFL heroes play live.
“This year’s NAB Challenge isn’t just about the football, it’s about connecting Australia’s game with local communities around the country, which is why we’ve introduced a range of additional local events and activities to complement each match. The backbone of our game is made up of the many local supporters, players, coaches, umpires and administrators who play such a vital role in growing the game, so we’re pleased to be able to engage these communities away from the football field.
This year’s NAB Challenge will again see nine points awarded for a NAB Supergoal kicked from outside the 50m arc. For every NAB Supergoal kicked, NAB will donate $500 worth of Sherrin footballs to the goal kicker’s junior football club.
FOXTEL and FOX SPORTS will broadcast every match of the 2014 NAB Challenge live, in High Definition and uninterrupted siren to siren. For the latest broadcast information please visit http://www.afl.com.au/tv-radio/nab-challenge-broadcast-guide
To view the full NAB Challenge fixture please visit http://www.afl.com.au/fixture/nab-challenge
The Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast SUNS NAB Challenge match is proudly supported by Tourism Events Queensland with tickets on sale through Ticket Shop http://www.ticketshop.com.au from Wednesday January 29.