SIX football teams from across the state will join North Bendigo in ramping up their 2019 preparations at a pre-season tournament to be hosted by the Bulldogs in late March.
The three-day North Bendigo pre-season tournament will be held from March 29-31 at Atkins Street.
Joining the host Bulldogs in what the club is billing as the “2019 Country Football Challenge Tournament” is Maryborough (Bendigo league), Bears Lagoon-Serpentine (Loddon Valley), Swan Hill (Central Murray), Harcourt (Maryborough-Castlemaine District), Horsham Demons (Wimmera) and Yarram (North Gippsland).
Each team will play two preliminary round games of 4 x 20-minute quarters, with the two best performed sides to play off in the grand final on the final day.
The tournament will begin on the Friday night with two games under lights from 6pm, five games on the Saturday beginning at 1pm, with the grand final to be played on the Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs have confirmed AFL legend Kevin Sheedy as the tournament ambassador.
North Bendigo hopes to make the pre-season tournament an annual event, with the long-term goal of it to become a showcase of reigning premier teams.
The Horsham Demons – a club that won 10-straight Wimmera flags between 2003 and 2012 – and Yarram are both reigning premiers, while North Bendigo was a beaten grand finalist in 2018.
“It can be hard to secure practice matches against equal opposition, so we think this is a really good opportunity for the clubs involved to get some good hit-outs in leading into their respective seasons,” tournament manager Russell Boyd said on Friday.
“And with the multiple games over the weekend, it’s a different format for the clubs in which to play their squads and we’re really hoping we can make it into an event that we will build on in the years to come.
“We think this is a really good opportunity to engage the football community given we have clubs coming from a range of geographical areas across the state.
“In time we’d like to establish this as a competition for premiership teams from the previous year and make it a real pre-season showcase.”
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