With the 2016 NEAFL season kicking off this weekend, there’s been a lot of change since we wrapped up in 2015. The football landscape is always evolving; new players, new coaches and new rules.
Umpires will now be stricter on deliberate out of bounds, which is encouraged to speed the game up with fewer stoppages. Fans want to see a great spectacle and with the ball being kept in play, this can only mean more exciting footy for all involved.
Today’s Round 1 clash versus the Gold Coast SUNS will certainly be exciting for many reasons.
Thunder will be led out by their new Captain, Shannon Rioli. Darren ‘Boof’ Ewing will be the first player to play 100 NEAFL games, Matty Rosier will play his 100th game for Thunder, Michael Mummery will be the youngest player to pull on the NT Thunder jumper, Ezekiel Frank (son of NTFL legend Jerry Frank) will play his first game, and we will see the return of former AFL star and Territory lad Jared Brennan.
A comment has stuck in my head from when Jared Brennan committed to play for Thunder in 2016: ‘I can’t wait to pull the Territory colours on again’!
Tonight 23 players get the opportunity to pull on the Territory colours, some for the first time.
What I have witnessed in my time as coach, is that regardless which NTFL club you play for, where you were born, how many AFL games you have played or how old you are, as soon as you pull that Thunder jumper on we become one.
It’s a feeling of pride, belonging and achievement like many players before them have experienced. Players like Russell Jeffery, Michael McLean, Mark Motlop, Andrew McLeod, Iggy Vallejo and Cyril Rioli Snr, who have all shaped what Thunder stands for today. Their legacy continues to inspire our next generation of Territory football legends.
Be there tonight to support your Territory team!