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2015 NAB Challenge details

The Blues will face the Magpies in Bendigo on March 15, 2015. (Photo: AFL Photos)
The Blues will face the Magpies in Bendigo on March 15, 2015. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Many of the most iconic regional and suburban football grounds across Australia will host AFL football next year when the NAB Challenge opens the 2015 season.

AFL General Manager – Broadcasting, Scheduling and Major Projects Simon Lethlean today announced the fixture for the 2015 NAB Challenge, broadcast on Fox Footy, that will see top-flight football return to some of the game’s most cherished suburban venues, including Whitten Oval in Melbourne’s west.

Matches will be played in every state and feature a number of games at venues that don’t normally host AFL football during the Premiership Season, including Blacktown (NSW), Mandurah (WA), Burpengary (QLD), Townsville (QLD), Fremantle Oval (WA), Coffs Harbour (NSW), Morwell, (Vic), Shepparton (Vic), North Ballarat (Vic), Albury (NSW), Bendigo (Vic) and the Whitten Oval (Vic).

Furthermore, a number of venues will host official AFL pre-season matches for the first time - Drummoyne (NSW), Norwood (SA) and Port Lincoln (SA).

Mr Lethlean also announced that for the first time in over a decade AFL club members with game access would be entitled to attend next year’s NAB Challenge matches free of charge. In a move that puts fans at the forefront of the pre-season, those members signed up in time for the 2015 NAB Challenge won’t be charged to see their team compete.

Following a review of this year’s NAB Challenge and based on the preparation requirements of clubs leading into the Premiership Season, each team will play three NAB Challenge matches across four weeks in 2015. Every club will play two matches across the opening three weeks and a final match in the fourth week.

Every match across the opening three weeks will be played at regional or suburban venues around the country, while the fourth and final week will see matches staged at metropolitan AFL venues to maximise team preparations ahead of the Premiership Season. The final week of matches will feature derbies in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the ACT, along with traditional match-ups between Victorian clubs at Etihad Stadium, including a double header at that venue on Saturday March 21.

Reigning Premiers Hawthorn will kick off the NAB Challenge, hosting Collingwood at Aurora Stadium on Thursday February 26 in what will be the Magpies’ first ever official AFL match in Tasmania as that State celebrates 150 years of Australian Football.

Fox Footy will be the exclusive broadcaster of the 2015 NAB Challenge. In addition, every televised 2015 NAB Challenge match will also be made available live to fans via the AFL Live App.

Mr Lethlean said the NAB Challenge was a chance to take the game to fans around the country.

“Fans in regional and suburban communities across Australia are unashamedly our focus throughout next year’s NAB Challenge,” Mr Lethlean said.

“We’re pleased to be able to take top-flight football to some of the game’s most important venues, along with offering 2015 club Members free entry to what will be an outstanding competition.

“Whitten Oval will play host to elite level football for the first time in 18 years while South Australia’s iconic Norwood Oval will host its first official AFL pre-season match. The breadth of locations for next year’s NAB Challenge, right around the country, underlines the national reach of Australian football.

“Next year’s competition will see every club play two matches over the first three weeks and a third match during the final week. This structure accommodates the needs of our clubs in terms of managing player workloads and planning their preparations during a very important month.”

National Australia Bank’s General Manager Consumer Marketing, Kevin Ramsdale, said NAB was pleased to continue its longstanding support of the AFL through the NAB Challenge. 

"Together with the AFL, we've been growing the game for over a decade and we're delighted that through the NAB Challenge we can extend this to regional communities such as Albury, Burpengary and Morwell," Mr Ramsdale said. 

"The NAB Challenge is an exciting opportunity for us to bring the game to the fans and there's no doubt they'll embrace live AFL action in their home town. The competition is also the perfect way for our customers and employees to get involved in their local community through a shared love of football.

"After a long summer without AFL football, the NAB Challenge will provide fans with a first glimpse of how their team is shaping up for the season ahead with many NAB AFL Draftees making their debut on the big stage. We're confident that with the new-look format and many regions hosting games for the first time, it's sure to be an exciting competition.”

Mr Lethlean thanked both NAB and Foxtel /Fox Footy for their ongoing support for the AFL’s pre-season matches.

2015 NAB Challenge matches will be broadcast live and exclusively on Fox Footy with live streaming on the AFL Live App.

The AFL Live App is available to download via iTunes, Google Play and Windows Stores.

2015 AFL club members will benefit from free access to their team’s NAB Challenge matches – further details are available from club membership departments.