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Football frenzy: AFL's Queensland blitz spurs growth in junior ranks

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Queenslanders will be able to attend as many as 19 AFL games in 20 days from next week, with the unprecedented elite AFL showcase contributing to booming participation rates in the sport across the state.

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The AFL has confirmed the next four rounds of fixtures will be jammed into 20 days from Wednesday 29 July, with the majority of games being played in Queensland where six Victorian teams are now based.

In a further sign of the growing buzz around AFL in Queensland, the Gold Coast Suns will play their first prime time game in their 10-year history at Metricon Stadium in Round 8 tonight against the Western Bulldogs.

Of the total games played in Rounds 9-12, there will be 10 games played at the Gabba and nine at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The four-round AFL blitz means at least one match will be played almost every day for almost three weeks, plus a number of double headers, starting with the clash between the Gold Coast-based Western Bulldogs and Richmond at Metricon Stadium next Wednesday.

The Queensland feast of AFL has had an immediate impact on local competitions, which only kicked off across the state following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions from 10 July.

AFL Queensland chief Dean Warren told InQueensland the increased visibility of the elite game was helping local competitions rebound in a disrupted season.

AFLQ figures this week showed that the number of participants in junior footy in southeast Queensland had surpassed 2019 figures, he said.

“It’s just extraordinary. The added focus and visibility of the elite game in Queensland is having a real positive flow on effect on people’s appetite to consume our game.

“We aimed for around 85 per cent of participants from last year, but this week we’ve surpassed 2019 figures and we’re getting a steady flow of registrations every day.

“The impact from a local footy perspective has been remarkable,” he said.

As elite teams across sports codes gather in Queensland to escape multiplying cases of coronavirus transmission in NSW and Victoria, live sport fans across the state are the big winners.

Super Netball will begin on 1 August with games to be played on the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, and the Sunshine Coast.

Six interstate teams have arrived in Queensland and will play up to 60 games including finals around the state.

More than 200 Supercars drivers and team members have also relocated to Queensland, based around the Gold Coast and Yatala, to avoid coronavirus restrictions and keep the 2020 Supercars season alive.

In the NRL, the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys all have home games for their Round 11 clashes this weekend.

The Broncos and Cowboys will again play at home in Round 12, along with the Melbourne Storm, which has relocated to a new home on the Sunshine Coast and will play their home game against the Knights on Sunday 2 August at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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