By ZAC MILBANK
Excitement is continuing to build in Whyalla ahead of Saturday’s AFL Marsh Community Series match at the newly redeveloped Bennett Oval.
Port Adelaide will confront the Western Bulldogs from 3.40pm, with a bumper crowd tipped to watch the likes of Robbie Gray and Connor Rozee strut their stuff in the Steel City.
Whyalla Football League President Jack Velthuizen said hosting the match would be significant in terms of promotion and economic benefit for the region.
”The whole town is looking forward to it and I’m sure there will be many more from around the district who will come along to watch,” Velthuizen said.
”What we are hoping is that it will inspire younger people to play country footy in our League and they will eventually progress up into our seniors.
”This game could be just the trick, it should be a huge catalyst really.
”All of the pubs and clubs will also be booked out so economically it will be excellent for the town.”
Whyalla City Council has played a significant role in the $2.8m redevelopment of Bennett Oval, with the support of SANFL.
“Whyalla is buzzing with this Marsh Community Series match coming to town,” Whyalla City Council Mayor Clare McLaughlin said.
“Since Sanjeev Gupta announced his Port Adelaide sponsorship in February last year and declared his wish for a game in Whyalla it has been a whirlwind twelve months.
“We put in place a $2.8m Stage One redevelopment project of Bennett Oval that has seen all new irrigation installed, a complete refurbishment of the turf on the oval and a renovation of the grandstand facilities including changerooms, wet areas, canteen and bar.
“A big thanks to the State Government, the South Australian National Football League and South Australian Cricket Association which have become partners in this project and Port Adelaide which has done a mountain of work to help make it happen.
“AFL footy is coming to Whyalla at our wonderful, new-look Bennett Oval and we couldn’t be more excited.”
If you ask Velthuizen, Saturday’s game between the Power and the Bulldogs is just the beginning, with plans to entice SANFL club North Adelaide to host a Statewide Super League game in its regional recruiting zone.
”We’ve already talked about having a SANFL match here in the future,” Velthuizen said.
”That would be fantastic to keep that momentum moving forward. We’ve got a wonderful history with North Adelaide, being the home of Barrie Robran.
”This year, we are celebrating our 100th anniversary and Barrie has agreed to come up to launch our history book on the League so long as it doesn’t interfere with his lawn bowling.”
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