NT Thunder will not play in the NEAFL in 2020 after deciding to withdraw from the competition.
Please see below letter from AFL Northern Territory Chief Executive, Stuart Totham, addressed to NT Thunder members.
As a valued member of our Thunder team, it is important that we share with you some details regarding today’s announcement.
Firstly, I can confirm that the Board and Executive of AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) has made the decision not to enter our NT Thunder teams into the NEAFL and VFLW competitions in 2020.
This was not an easy decision, both for our organisation; and for me personally.
As the inaugural Thunder CEO, I will never forget the day in 2008 we first unveiled the NT Thunder brand and started on the bold journey to have a full-time Territory representative footy team.
At the time, the strategy was the right one for Territory footy; however that does not necessarily mean it is the right strategy 11 years later.
In reviewing our overall goals in that time, we have not increased the number of players from the NT on AFL lists nationally. In 2010 there were 27 players on lists, today there is only 13 who can be attributed to the NT.
These figures don’t lie. And it means something in our system is not going right.
The evidence clearly shows that we can't keep doing the same things and expect different results, so the time is right to change strategy – and in doing so we will be increasing our commitment to NT football across all levels.
And so our job should be to not only get more players on AFL and AFLW lists, but to grow the game at grass roots level.
The new strategy that will be unveiled in coming weeks will focus on:
-Increased funding in our existing NT Thunder underage talent programs
-Increased spending in community football; club sustainability and coaching
-Increased efforts to see more remote players access our programs
-Closer alignment and relationships with AFL Clubs
I would like to assure you all that the NT Thunder brand is not dead; nor is our journey over.
Our NT Thunder Academy programs at u/16 and u/18 level will continue because we want talented Territory kids to have more opportunities at the highest level.
For now, I’d like to pay tribute to the many players, administrators and volunteers that contributed to our NT Thunder Club in the past. It has played a big part in the footy history of the Territory and I believe will again in the future.
Thanks for your support and we will continue to keep you updated on our progress.
The NEAFL thanks AFLNT and NT Thunder for its 10-year contribution to our competition and wishes AFLNT all the best in the next chapter of territory football.
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