Bendigo is among the regional Victorian cities that will play a key role in the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Announced on Tuesday morning by premier Daniel Andrews, Bendigo is among one of four regional hubs that will host events and an athletes' village.
Among the events to be held across the city is T20 cricket, cycling, lawn and para lawn bowls, netball, squash, weightlifting and para powerlifting.
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AFL Central Victoria, which oversees several of the region's netball associations, was thrilled to be able to showcase netball events in Bendigo.
"We are absolutely delighted by the news as it's going to help promote the game of netball throughout our region," AFL CV regional manager Craig Armstead said.
"We have so many young aspiring players and for them to see the best in the world and experience the elite atmosphere is an incredible opportunity.
Armstead said AFL CV was eager to work with the Commonwealth Games to find ways to connect athletes and teams with local clubs.
"Whether it be for training or practice we'd love to integrate them back into our clubs to give the sport even greater exposure," he said.
It is the first Commonwealth Games to be awarded to a state or region, with only cities previously selected throughout its 92-year history.
Four hubs will be set-up in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland - each with their own athletes' villages - and Shepparton is also slated to host events.
The regional centres will host the entire program apart from the opening ceremony, which has been locked in for the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Armstead said the fact Bendigo had been selected to host events was testament to the city's long-sporting history.
"I remember watching basketball here in Bendigo for the 2006 Commonwealth Games and it was a truly fantastic and well-supported event," he said.
"Now that the city has been given the rights to host more it reflects and demonstrates Bendigo's capability of being a major sporting precinct in both Victoria and Australia more broadly."
With a strong track record of hosting major national and international events, Bendigo Squash manager Ayden Mines hoped to see gold medals won on the courts at the Barnard Street centre.
"We've put in a lot of effort and hard yards in recent years when hosting major events and it's great to see we've been given the respect and been allowed to host Commonwealth Games events," he said.
"This is huge news for the centre as it brings squash in Bendigo into the limelight, but also for the sport on a national and international level."
Bendigo Campase Goldfields Bowls Region president Paul Moller was thrilled to hear Commonwealth Games bowls events were heading to Bendigo.
"This is phenomenal," he said.
"This will only do us a huge bonus in advertising how good our sport is by having the world's best right here on our doorstep.
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Moller expected crowds to travel from far and wide across the state to see the bowlers in action on the Bendigo district's rinks.
"When the Commonwealth Games were in Melbourne in 2006 people from regional areas had to travel quite a long distance to see the action," he said.
"But to have events right here in the middle of Victoria it's going to draw in a lot of spectators from regional areas."
The Bendigo district is no stranger to bowls Commonwealth Games success as back at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast St Arnaud-born Aaron Wilson won gold in the men's singles.
"It would be great to see Arron back in action in Bendigo but there's also plenty of other young talent that could make a push such as Cameron Keenan," Moller said.
"No doubt he'd be gunning for a spot in something like this."
Bendigo District Cricket Association president Travis Harling also reaffirmed that Bendigo's selection showed faith that the city was capable of holding major sports events.
"The organisers feel our cricket facilities are up to the required standard to host the events and it only helps us promote the game even more."
In regards to the venues, Harling believed no other ground showcased cricket greater than the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
"It's our premier facility and in terms of knowing more detail of what they're after, we have a number of other venues that are able to host matches."
Harling recalled when he was a junior and was able to watch the West Indies cricket team in action at Echuca.
"I still remember it like it was yesterday," Harling said.
"This is the same as juniors across Bendigo will have the opportunity to watch their sports heroes up close and personal."
An initial list of 16 sports is confirmed for the Games, with more to be added later this year.
Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll noted 12 were established Olympic sports, making the Commonwealth Games a major marker on the runway to the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.
Ben Houston, president of Commonwealth Games Australia, also said the event will provide "immeasurable benefits" as lead-up competition.
It is the sixth time the games have been held in Australia, most recently on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Hosting rights for the 2026 event hit a market after the English city of Birmingham replaced South Africa's Durban as host of the upcoming 2022 games.
Kuala Lumpur, Cardiff, Calgary, Edmonton, Adelaide and Perth all pulled out from proposed bids over cost and COVID-19 concerns.
With no other suitors, Victoria was considered a near-certainty to secure the event after the state government entered exclusive negotiations with the games' governing body in February.
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