TWO new teams will be joining the AFL North Coast ranks in 2021.
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The Lismore Swans and Casino Lions are the new members of the competition and the Community Football Manager for AFL North Coast, Paul Taylor, welcomed the new clubs and said that the local competition is in an extremely positive growth phase.
“This will mean that our Senior Competition has doubled in size in just three years, which is a fantastic reflection of the hard work of all involved in the competition and comes off the back of five years of growth in junior footy,” Taylor said.
It will be the third year in a row a new club has entered the AFL North Coast senior competition after Northern Beaches returned to the fold in 2019 and Nambucca Valley re-joined last season.
Both Lismore and Casino have been playing in the Summerland/Northern Rivers competition but Lismore club president Laura Cahill said the time is right to make the move south.
“The movement to a NSW based league will give us the scope to engage with players in our broader regional area and allow us to participate in a competition that’s better suited to our vision and values at this point in time,” Cahill said.
“The Lismore Swans are looking forward to the opportunity to participate in the AFL North Coast competition.
“We are really excited about developing some new healthy rivalries with the existing North Coast teams.”
The Casino Lions are re-forming for the 2021 season having last played in 2017.
President Ben Hunt said there was a lot of excitement around the town about the club’s return.
“We’ve decided to return to the competition after a long time away based on a groundswell of support from local players and businesses,” Hunt said.
“We’re looking to rebuild a club with a very prestigious history and return to AFL glory in the coming years.”
The new teams will mean clubs such as Port Macquarie and Nambucca Valley will face long trips for away games against the Swans and Lions when the season gets underway in April but Taylor said this was taken into consideration.
“The inclusion of Lismore and Casino extends what was already a big region and creates additional challenges but the existing clubs were keen to see them join and have indicated that they’ll look at innovative solutions to overcome the challenge of travel,” he said.
“With the way that clubs have worked together in recent times I have no doubt they’ll pass the challenge with flying colours.”