Countdown to 2022 Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships

By SANFL Media

The countdown is on for one of the largest annual regional sporting events – the Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships – to be held this weekend in Whyalla.

SA’s best male and female country footballers, and a further 200-plus officials and volunteers, will descend on the north-eastern Eyre Peninsula town from regional leagues across the State to represent their Zone in matches at Bennett and Memorial ovals.

A feature of the weekend also will be the much-anticipated top-of-the-table clash in the Hostplus SANFL League between North Adelaide and Adelaide, to be played at Bennett Oval on Saturday afternoon.

Head of SANFL Community Football Lisa Faraci said pre-purchased ticket sales for the event had been strong, with at least 4000 spectators expected to attend across the weekend.

“The SANFL regional match has been played as part of the Country Championships for the past few years and gives locals and everyone involved an opportunity to experience SANFL footy up close,” Faraci said.

“We are also in for a real treat by having the clash between the two top teams of the Hostplus SANFL League – the Roosters, in the heartland of their regional zone, against the strong-performing Crows.”

Faraci said SANFL also was pleased to confirm that on the back of the Country Championships, the SA Country versus WA Country match returns this year after a three-year hiatus due to Covid.

At the conclusion of the Country Championships, a team of the carnival will be announced, with the majority of these players forming the SA Country squad.

Central District’s Jack Oatey Medallist Rick MacGowan has been announced as coach of SA Country.

MacGowan, who started his football with the Darke Peake Football Club in the Eastern Eyre Football League, went on to play 222 games with Central District between 1992 and 2002. In 2004 MacGowan had a year with North Adelaide to end his career and, in 2007, he was appointed as senior coach of Sturt.

“We are thrilled to confirm that the State Country match will be played as a curtain raiser to the Adelaide v Carlton AFL match at Adelaide Oval on July 30,” Faraci said.

“This match is always a great showcase of SA and WA’s best regional players, and a unique opportunity for them to play on the world-class Adelaide Oval on an AFL match day.

“While State Country football has been a tradition for male players, SANFL and WAFL are also working towards expanding the annual contest to include a game for our talented female players, possibly by 2023.”

The 2019 South Australian Country Team in Perth.

The SA Country Championships will see male and female representative teams from six regional zones – Central, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, South East, Northern and Southern Districts – compete across the weekend.

Southern Districts will be hoping to defend its 2021 crown in the men’s championships, while Northern will be seeking back-to-back glory after taking out its first women’s championships last year.

City of Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said the weekend was a major tourism boost for the region, with over $1 million expected to be injected into the local economy.

“Our community will once again have the rare opportunity to witness elite athletes in their own city, which is made possible by our upgraded sporting facilities – the best outside of metropolitan Adelaide,” Mayor McLaughlin said.

For more information on the Country Championships and to purchase online tickets visit the SANFL website.

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