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Social Impact A Driving Force For Northern Territory AFL Club

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Social Impact A Driving Force For Northern Territory AFL Club

Australian Football League Northern Territory (AFLNT) have released a feasibility report into the creation of an AFL team that unconventionally prioritises social impact.

The report was commissioned in 2019 by AFLNT with funding from the Northern Territory government with the report aiming to identify what AFLNT needed to achieve to be able to obtain an AFL team licence.

After various interviews with stakeholders across the AFL, the Northern Territory government, Australian governments, and Aboriginal Land councils, the report determined the potential of an AFL team based off social and community change would be worth future exploration.

The research showed the Northern Territory community was the highest per capita in participation rate for AFL of any state/territory.

AFLNT hopes the report will provide a compelling case to secure an AFL team in the Northern Territory as well as an AFLW team should one also becomes available.

Very rarely have potential teams prioritised social impact as the reason for creation and if successful, it would be unprecedented in Australian sport.

The study recommends AFLNT should establish a steering committee to progress the Territory’s claim as well as a number of strategic actions and a timeline to build the case.

On the report, AFLNT CEO, Stuart Totham, said: “This is an important study that helps us understand what the Northern Territory needs to do to be in the best possible position to secure an AFL license, should that opportunity ever arise.”

“It is critical that the aspiration towards it and the resultant plans, strategies and actions taken provide real and ongoing benefit, for both the game of Australian rules and most importantly, the people and communities in the Northern Territory.

“There is incredible passion for the game and while we are not counting on an AFL team being based in the Northern Territory, we have a much deeper understanding of the requirements and challenges associated with bringing more AFL football to the Territory,” he said.

Chair of the AFLNT board, Sean Bowden, commented on the scope of AFL in the Northern Territory.

“In the Territory our game reaches from the Tiwi Islands, to Darwin, from Wadeye to Arnhem Land, south to Katherine, Tennant Creek and Central Australia,” Bowden said.

“AFL football links every community in the Northern Territory and we are bound together through our participation in and love of the game.

“We know that establishing the key components for an AFL team will be a great challenge, but I am confident that we will meet the challenge when the time is right.

“As a community we can take inspiration from the brilliance and determination of the players who have made the AFL their own away from their home.

“When the time comes it would be fantastic to unite and harness that brilliance under Territory colours,” he said.

Northern Territory chief minister, The Hon Michael Gunner, announced the establishment of a taskforce to obtain an AFL licence for a Northern Territory team with Sean Bowden as chair of the taskforce.

“We deserve our own team,” Gunner said.

“This study is just the start of a complex journey and it could be many years before a license for a new team is awarded.

“It’s important we’re ready when that time comes,” he said.

AFL executive general manager of game development and general counsel, Andrew Dillon, said: “Many of the game’s greatest players have come from [the Northern Territory], and participation levels show how important the game is to so many Territorians.”

“The AFL supports the study, which outlines what the Northern Territory needs to do to put itself in a position to apply for a license,” he said.

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