SEASON 2018 of AFL in the Far North will kick off with a “footy festival” in late March, incorporating an elite AFL match, a local game and a new “Premiers Challenge” between clubs from Townsville and Cairns.
The 2018 AFL Cairns fixture will be released in January with North Cairns and Cairns City Lions to open the local season at the developed Watsons Oval, the night before North Melbourne play Gold Coast at Cazalys Stadium.
Instead of the annual South Queensland and North Queensland representative game being the curtain-raiser for the AFL game, it will be replaced by the new Premiers Challenge, pitting Port Douglas against Hermit Park, from Townsville.
“It is a huge week for AFL in Cairns and we are really keen to create a footy festival atmosphere,” AFL Cairns operations manager Craig Lees said.
“We will have the AFL game, the coaching masterclass as we annually have, a local game with a launch of the new $2 million facility, with two clubs that have struggled in recent times and are looking to kick season 2018 off with a victory.
“We are really looking to have a big crowd there at Watsons Oval which will then flow into the AFL game.
“It gives all AFL supporters a chance to see some live local footy, something we haven’t done in the past.”
With the AFL game between North and the Gold Coast brought forward to Round 1 instead of in July, as it has been previously, the annual SQ and NQ representative game will be played later in 2018, at a date to be determined, likely in early July.
Lees is hopeful the Townsville influence at the Kangaroos, Josh Williams and Braydon Preuss, can bring a few footy fans north for the game.
“The idea was to reward the premiers from Townsville and Cairns with the Premiers Challenge,” Lees said.
“We are a chance to have Townsville kids playing for North Melbourne and Cairns kids for Gold Coast, so it should work well as a concept.
“Hopefully we can have some fans from Townsville attend the game.”
AFL CAIRNS SEASON 2018 HIGHLIGHTS
March 10-17: Pre-season competition
Friday March 23: North Cairns v Cairns City Lions as a stand-alone game the day before the AFL game under lights at Watsons
March 24: AFL Game, Premiers Challenge curtain-raiser (Port Douglas V Hermit Park)
Friday/Saturday March 29/30: AFL Cairns Round 1
Wednesday April 25: ANZAC DAY will be played in Round 4
Friday May 4: All Stars representative game
September 8/15/22: AFL Cairns finals
Article Courtesy of Jordan Gerrans The Cairns Post 15th December 2017