AFL NSW-ACT is keen to bring more elite action to the Riverina.
AFL NSW-ACT’s executive were in Wagga on Monday as part of their annual review and planning session with local staff.
There was no AFL action in the Riverina this year and nothing scheduled for 2019 as Wagga prepares for an NRL competition game in May.
Canberra Raiders’ home game against Penrith at Equex Centre will be the first NRL competition game in the city since 1998.
AFL NSW-ACT chief executive Sam Graham said conversations were being held in a bid to to bring ‘elite content’ back to the Riverina soon.
“I fully understand how important bringing elite content to regional areas is,” Graham said.
“AFL pre-season fixtures and AFLW content is in hot demand nationally.
“I’m passionate about this and we’re having really productive conversations with stakeholders in the region, including local council, and we’re hopeful of bringing more content to the broader region in the future.”
Graham supports the city’s push.
“We’d be really keen to support AFLW as well as a JLT (AFL pre-season game), depending on fixturing scenarios and other elements,” he said.
“We’re working really closely with council and hopefully there is some exciting news around future fixtures in coming years.”
Graham revealed 2018 has been another successful year for the code in Southern NSW.
The highlight being three per cent growth across community football.
“It’s been a really pleasing year, generally,” he said.
"We had some really pleasing growth, three per cent across community football, specific to Southern NSW, which is really pleasing growth and the highest we’ve seen for a while. Higher than we’ve seen in similar demographics in other areas outside of this state, so really pleasing community football growth.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the stronger communities fund, where we’re generating new money into support facilities, which has been great, and the AFL is co-investing in a number of those facilities.
“We’ve had significant growth in female football, over 80 per cent growth year on year, we’ve had excellent talent results...we’re really pleased with the year generally and the team here in Wagga are doing a fabulous job.”
Graham highlighted the current review into AFL Riverina competitions as the number one priority for next year.
“This is a joint review. It’s got all the buy in of our local leagues, our staff here in the Riverina and our state body,” he said.
“From this visit last year, we identified a number of challenges working with the local stakeholders. Essentially that’s a long-term review to ensure the future sustainability of footy in the region.”
Graham said the review was on schedule.
“We’re part way through that process at the moment,” he said.
“We had a detailed survey that went out to people, we’re in the process of digesting that and there will be a series of face to face meetings and consultations in the new year, but we’re not in any rush with that.
“There won’t be changes for 2019, this is more of a long-term view to make sure we understand all the issues and that the state body is doing everything it can to support the local clubs and local leagues be sustainable into the future.”