Townsville up to the challenge

The end product is 52 players, thousands of spectators and one footy match, but there’s plenty more that goes into putting on a NAB Challenge match.

Almost 200 staff contribute to the set-up and workings of the event, making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Townsville City Council Sport and Recreation Manager, Ben Payne said 5,000 meat pies, 20,000 serves of hot chips are likely to be served at Tony Ireland Stadium on the day.

Thousands of spectators will be washing those pies and chips down with around 5000 litres of beer during the day or one of 15,000 bottles of water set to be drained during the day.

And when you’re done eating, Payne estimates the crowd will require 2,000 rolls of toilet paper.

For AFL Townsville chairman, Peter Busch, the work started back in October, when it was announced that the North Queensland city would play pre-season host again.

From there the board works with AFL Townsville regional manager, Kath Newman and her team, as well as numerous AFL representatives from around the state, as well as Tourism Events Queensland and Townsville Enterprise Limited to pull together all of the parts that make the day run smoothly.

Busch’s attention is primarily focused on the curtain-raiser match between the Australian Defence Force and an AFL Townsville rep side.

“We’ve been going through the process with the league of getting a coach, lining up the players, sorting uniforms and getting it ready to go,” he said.

“After that, there’s also the matter of promoting the game to our business networks for corporate packages.

“It started as soon as the announcement was being made, and things have been ramping up, with the steering committee meeting weekly.

After staging the first match last season, Busch said they had more of an idea about the undertaking than in 2013.

“We learned a lot last year,” he said.

“Personally, I learned to trust the AFL to pull a lot of it together, and we can just look after the local side of things.”

“It’s about not trying to control the things we can’t.”

The months of hard, voluntary work, in Busch’s case, all becomes worth it when the gates open on match day, though, he said.

“We’re all passionate about AFL and to see our home ground involved, it’s just breathtaking,” he said.

“The feeling last year, when you got to the ground, after all the preparation and see the people streaming in the gates, you just think ‘how good does this look?’”

“It’s very satisfying.”

Sunday’s NAB Challenge match between the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS kicks off at 3:40pm at Tony Ireland Stadium.

The 2014 NAB Challenge match in Townsville is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of sporting, cultural and regional events throughout the state.

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