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AFL Sydney clubs to join NEAFL

  • Wednesday, June 29 2011 @ 03:02 pm ACST
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General News The AFL today announced East Coast Eagles and Sydney University have been invited to join the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) next season. The two AFL Sydney clubs have been through an extensive application process over the last two months and will now each seek the formal approval of their members before accepting the invitation.

If successful, East Coast and Sydney University will become the first AFL Sydney clubs to join NEAFL’s Eastern Conference, making it a nine-team competition in 2012. The Eastern Conference currently includes the Sydney Swans reserves and GWS GIANTS (next year their reserves as they join the AFL) as well as five Canberra-based clubs.

The pre-eminent second tier football competition in NSW/ACT will provide players with national exposure with cross-conference games between some of the ten Queensland and Northern Territory teams making up NEAFL’s Northern Conference.
General Manager – International and National Development David Matthews said the possible addition of Sydney University and East Coast to NEAFL’s Eastern Conference is a significant step in the development of AFL in Sydney. “For NEAFL to be truly representative of all northern markets it must have state league club representation from Sydney,” Matthews said.

“Both clubs have not only had success on the field in recent years but are very well structured off it and have a progressive attitude that will enable them to be successful in taking the step up to NEAFL. “The entry of Sydney University and East Coast will not only help boost the profile of AFL in Sydney but it also gives up and coming footballers a clear talent pathway and enhances their prospects of being drafted.”

Currently in its first year, NEAFL is providing home grown footballers with an opportunity to experience a more professional competition which has elevated the standard and profile of AFL in the northern markets.

Eagles president Gus Seebeck said the club’s probable elevation will have a positive effect on the entire community. “East Coast Eagles are delighted to be extended an invitation to compete in NEAFL Eastern Conference,” Seebeck said. “As an aspirational club, it’s something we’ve been striving for and we see it as being a major factor in driving the future success of the club both on and off the field.

“The NEAFL represents an enormous opportunity not only for the Eagles but for the continued development of AFL at all levels in the Sydney Hills and also for the entire Sydney Hills community to have a team involved in an elite sporting competition that everyone can get involved in.”

Sydney University president Chas Wilkinson is delighted the club has been given an opportunity to join NEAFL’s Eastern Conference next season. NEAFL is an excellent opportunity not only for our club and Sydney University, but also for the wider AFL community in Sydney,” Wilkinson said.

“It will provide more young and talented footballers the possibility to play a higher standard of the game without moving interstate, which can only enhance the talent, participation and fan pool across Sydney. “With the support of Sydney University Sport and Fitness and other major partners, we have built a successful under-18 and senior football high performance program over the past five years. “NEAFL now presents Sydney University the opportunity to provide a clear talent pathway for players looking to play AFL at the highest possible level.”

East Coast and Sydney University played in last year’s AFL Sydney premier division grand final which was won by East Coast – their second premiership in a row.