Media Release

Whyalla to host 2022 Think! Road Safety SA Country Championships

3 December 2021

By SANFL Media

SANFL is pleased to announce that the 2022 Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships will be held for the first time in Whyalla next July.

The two-day carnival, to be hosted by the City of Whyalla, will be held at Whyalla’s award-winning AFL-standard Bennett Oval as well as nearby Memorial Oval.

Whyalla will welcome some 500 players, umpires and volunteers, as well as thousands of spectators, across the weekend of July 16-17 following its successful bid to host the 2022 Championships.

To assist with forward planning, SANFL also this week confirmed that the successful bidder for the 2023 Championships is The Barossa Council.

SANFL General Manager Football Matt Duldig said the championships were a significant event for community football, providing SA’s best crop of male and female country footballers with the prestige of representing their region.

Mr Duldig said SANFL also was again planning to showcase a SANFL League regional match as part of next year’s Championships.

He said the event would be a boon for Whyalla, providing significant economic and social benefits for clubs and the broader community, with the 2021 event in Victor Harbor generating an approximate $1.25 million for the region.

“The Country Championships have become a significant event for community football in regional South Australia over the years and we’re thrilled to see Whyalla play host in 2022,” he said.

“It’s been a challenging two years for regional communities and footy clubs, so this two-year commitment to the Championships will support the rebooting of footy in regional SA, grow participation and importantly connect communities and leagues from the across the State.

“This will also be a great opportunity for Whyalla to capitalise on its outstanding Bennett Oval facility which was recently recognised as winner of the 2021 AFL Community Facility Project of the Year.”

2021 Women’s SA Country Champions – Northern Zone

Mr Duldig also acknowledged the continuing support of the Country Championships’ naming rights partner, Think! Road Safety, for Community Football in South Australia.

“SANFL has been a strong and committed road safety advocate for many years and the Country Championships event is a vital platform to create awareness and drive home the vital message and education about road safety to our football community,” he said.

“Without our valuable partnership with Think! Road Safety, events such as the Country Championships would not be possible.”

City of Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said the announcement was fantastic news for Whyalla, with the event anticipated to bring in thousands of visitors to the city and inject over $1 million into the local economy.

“We are ecstatic to have been awarded these championships, providing further evidence that our upgraded sporting facilities are now the best outside of metropolitan Adelaide,” Mayor McLaughlin said.

“We’ve already proven our capability to host major sporting events with the recent AFL preseason match, so we’re confident we can cater for the large influx of male and female players, their families and other visitors and ensure benefits across the local economy.

“There’s also the potential for a SANFL game to be played here as part of the event, which would further demonstrate the capability of our facilities while helping promote Whyalla to a far broader audience.”

Mayor McLaughlin thanked Whyalla City Council staff and the Whyalla Football League for their tremendous efforts in securing the championships.

Barossa Mayor Bim Lange also extended his council’s congratulations to City of Whyalla and Mayor McLaughlin.

“We look forward to the 2022 event with you in Whyalla and taking the baton for the Barossa in 2023,” Mayor Lange said.

Winners of the 2021 Men’s Championships – Southern Districts.

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