AFL lines up for goal in Bowen
THE Gold Coast based development firm poised to revive the Whitsundays Shores project, could also pave the way for Australian rules football to be played in Bowen.
The Greater Rewards Group, whose $900 Million plan to construct 1800 new dwellings, has been in discussions with the AFL about the inclusion of a new club and sporting field worth between $1.5 and $2 million.
Infrastructure Strategy and AFL Relations Manager, Jake Anson said the AFL now had a club network in all but three centres in Queensland whose population was less than 15,000, and Bowen was one of them.
He said the game has poured resources into regional development teams in Townsville and Mackay and are looking to further support clubs in those regions.
"We've been forming clubs in regional communities across Queensland that don't have AFL clubs, and Bowen has been a community on our radar for several years," said Mr Anson.
"The Whitsundays are halfway between Cairns and Rockhampton, therefore it offers a central location to bring together our regional talent programs. Bowen could present a similar location for Townsville and Mackay. There is a whole host of options if we have a facility in Bowen," he said.
Mr Anson said the challenges in getting new clubs up and running was often around finding a suitable facility, and buy-in from surrounding centres. He said with the game's growth in Townsville and Mackay, as well engagement with local schools, a foundation was in place to support a new venue and junior club to grow the game further.
"We have a number of Auskick programs running within Bowen schools and we have a well-developed program that our development staff use to engage Auskick participants and transition them into club football," Mr Anson said.
The Whitsundays offers a range of incentives for the AFL according to Mr Anson, with one being its favourable dry winter climate. He said there was great desire from coaches and recruiters to stage carnivals in North Queensland, particularly in the Whitsundays region which had an exceptional reputation as a tourist destination.
He said although economic uncertainty hadn't always allowed for sporting competitions to thrive in Bowen, the AFL made a point of making the game low cost and easy to access for people to participate.
"We've got thriving sustainable senior AFL clubs in places like Gympie and Chinchilla because we've been able to provide those clubs with the support they need and provide that pathway coming through," he said.
"We see Australian football as a game that can be a way of life for every Queensland community and our regional staff in Townsville and Mackay are very excited about the possibility to leave a legacy in Bowen."
CAP: THE HOLY GRAIL: Artist impression of the Whitsunday Shores development of an AFL group to be built in Bowen.