AFL North Coast spreads far and wide in 2016 season
BOLD plans have been announced to expand AFL North Coast this season.
NSW-ACT operations manager Darren Simpson visited Coffs Harbour to launch an expansion in the number of teams, an extended season and fewer byes.
"It's no wonder there's an air of excitement ahead of the AFL North Coast season," he said.
Starting on April 2 and culminating with the grand finals on September 3, this season will feature a total of 94 regular fixtures across the senior, reserve and Under-18 competitions.
In a brand new initiative, AFL North Coast clubs will partner with AFL Northern Rivers clubs in a cross conference competition across four rounds for Premiership points.
This will see the Port Macquarie Magpies, Sawtell/Toormina Saints, Coffs Breakers and Grafton Tigers pitted against teams from Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay and Tweed Coast.
AFL North Coast football operations co-ordinator Paul Taylor said the partnership is a fantastic innovation for AFL in northern NSW communities.
"Partnering with the Northern Rivers competition provides us with a positive platform for promotion and growth of both Leagues," he said.
"It has generated an enormous amount of excitement among all eight clubs."
Matches in the cross conference competition will be staged at Grafton's Ellem Oval on April 9, Fitzroy Oval on May 21, Wayne Richards Oval in Port Macquarie on June 25 and Richardson Park on July 30.
Four teams will be in action on each of these dates with two matches to be played as double headers.
Taylor said that extensive planning with the clubs going all the way back to September has gone into this season.
"The clubs told us loud and clear that they wanted more footy, extra rounds, and fewer byes.
"We've been able to deliver a model they're really excited by."
Saturday: Paul Taylor explains how changes affect lower grades and other plans under review.