SANFL announces country championship hosts
The SANFL has announced that the Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships will be held in Whyalla for the first time in 2022.
Along with the announcement of the 2022 hosts, the SANFL also endorsed the Barossa Valley as the host for the 2023 edition of the carnival.
SANFL Head of Country Football, Shawn Ford, appeared on the Flow Sports Show on Friday and confirmed the news.
"For 2022 and 2023, Whyalla was an absolute standout and the Barossa with their support moving into 2023 was also a standout," said Ford.
Ford said Whyalla was an untapped resource in terms of hosting major football events and the Barossa's strong event hosting pedigree made them a perfect choice for the 2023 event.
"Also you've then got the Tour Down Under through the Barossa, we know they've got the capability to host a really strong event and it's certainly a region that we're looking forward to moving into as these Championships progress."
The 2022 event will be held across two days in Whyalla at the renowned Bennett Oval which was the selected venue for an AFL pre-season match between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs in 2020.
The nearby Memorial Oval will also be utilised as over 500 players and umpires will be welcomed by Whyalla's football-loving residents.
The announcement comes as a boost to the Whyalla region which has seen a decline in tourism over recent years.
Whyalla is also set to benefit from an injection of more than $1 million into the local economy, according to its mayor Clare McLaughlin.
Ford also confirmed the SANFL is strongly considering the prospect of an SANFL match to be played during the carnival after the popular concept brought success last year.
"It has worked well in the past and it's been one of those real highlights at the Country Champs and our plan in 2022 is certainly to explore that option, so there's a few things in the pipeline at the moment," said Ford.
"Nothing confirmed as yet but it's certainly something that we're looking to feature and as I said, it's a real highlight of the country champs and moving forward we'd love to be able to attach a SANFL regional game to that."
An SANFL Regional Match between South Adelaide and Adelaide was held in conjunction with the 2021 instalment of the event in Victor Harbor.
Barossa Valley Mayor Bim Lange was delighted with the news his region had been selected to host the 2023 event. Mayor Lange said events like the SA Country Football Championships reconfirm the Barossa as a premier sports tourism events destination.
“We’re excited to be partnering with the SANFL to deliver the 2023 event and will be working collaboratively to identify potential event locations, taking advantage of the significant investment we’ve made in local facilities and venues as part of The Big Project,” he said.
The 2022 edition of the Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships will be held in Whyalla across the weekend of July 16-17 next year.