Sport in the Northern Territory
Many sports are played in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Australian rules football
The Tiwi Islands Football League is played in the Tiwi Islands. The Northern Territory Football League operates from Darwin. The Aboriginal All-Stars is also based in Darwin. The governing body for football in the territory is the AFL Northern Territory. Venues include the TIO Stadium in Darwin, and Traeger Park in Alice Springs.
2017 saw the launch of an eight-week inaugural national women's league, AFL Women's. NT women will play a prominent role in the Crows team, with the teams playing under a combined Northern Territory/South Australia banner. There are eight clubs in the competition. As of the start of 2017, these NT teams have contributed the following players:
- Wanderers: Sophie Armistead, midfield/defender; Stevie-Lee Thompson, midfielder.
- Waratahs: Angela Foley, midfielder; Abbey Holmes, forward; Heather Anderson, defender; Lauren O'Shea defender/ruck.
- St Marys: Tayla Thorn, utility.
- Tracy Village: Sally Riley, utility.
- Darwin Buffaloes: Jasmine Anderson, midfielder.
Rugby league is administered by the Northern Territory Rugby League. The territory has the highest participation rate per capita for Rugby League than any other state governing body in Australia. The National Rugby League has conducted numerous clinics and hosted regular pre-season matches in the territory since 1998. Local domestic competitions are based in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Gove. A combined Northern Territory team also participates in the Affiliated States Championship.
Rugby union is administered by the Northern Territory Rugby Union. Local senior club competitions are based in Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine. Clubs in Darwin have women's teams and junior competitions, and Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula has a junior rugby competition.
The Heineken Hottest 7s in the World tournament is hosted in Darwin each January, with Rugby sevens club teams from countries including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, and Singapore competing. Darwin's Hottest 7s, with a prize pool of $65,000 in 2013, is the richest Rugby sevens tournament in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Darwin Cup culminating on the first Monday of August is a very popular horse race event for Darwin and draws large crowds every year to Fannie Bay Racecourse. The first Darwin Cup winner at Fannie Bay was Satan's Son in 1956.
Darwin hosts a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series every year, the Skycity Triple Crown, bringing thousands of motorsports fans to the Hidden Valley Raceway. The Hidden Valley Raceway facility also contains a drag strip as part of Hidden Valley Raceway's main straight, and a nearby Speedway, Northline Speedway, for short circuit dirt surface racing.
In the south of the Territory, Australia's biggest Off-Road Race, the Finke Desert Race is held over a long circuit which takes in the settlement of Aputula on the Finke River. The event is based out of Alice Springs.
The Football Federation Northern Territory is the governing body for football (soccer) in the Northern Territory. The Territory is also separated into three (Northern, Central and Southern) zones which have their own zone councils which administer leagues locally running their own league and cup competitions.
The Darwin Football Stadium was officially opened on 28 July 2007 when it played host to an A-League Pre-Season Cup game between Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory. On 2 July 2009, A-League teams, Adelaide United FC and North Queensland Fury played a pre-season friendly at the stadium.
Reigning Football Federation Association Champions Adelaide United defeated Darwin Olympic 6-1 in a cup match at Marrara Oval in August 2015. Michael Tsounias scored the lone goal for the home side.
Alice Springs's most successful soccer club is Alice Springs Celtic
Organised baseball is played in Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine. Darwin has four clubs; Nightcliff Tigers, Palmerston Reds, Pints and Tracy Village Rebels. The East Darwin Beasts disbanded in 1986 and the South Darwin Rabbitohs disbanded in 2004.
Alice Springs has five teams; Bulls, Cubs, Demons, Panther and Redbacks
The Northern Territory also hosts state and international sporting events. These have included:
- The annual Camel Cup in Alice Springs.
- Since 1991 Darwin has hosted the Arafura Games every two years until its cancellation in 2012.
- The Australian Wallabies rugby union side trained in the Northern Territory in September 2002 in preparation for the World Cup in 2003. Wallabies coach Eddie Jones credited the Territory training camp as playing a crucial role in their upset semi-final victory over the New Zealand All Blacks. The Wallabies camped at Mount Borradile in Arnhem Land and encountered a 4-metre saltwater crocodile. Jones stated; "the Darwin camp for us was very positive, as the guys physically and mentally benefited from training in the heat, and it was a very important experience for us".
- In July 2003, Darwin hosted its first international test cricket match between Australia and Bangladesh and then Australia and Sri Lanka in 2004. Two portable pitches were installed at Marrara in June 2003 for the Bangladesh test. The installation was supervised by Melbourne Cricket Club curator Tony Ware.
- Bangladesh defeated the NT Chief Minister's XI in Darwin in July 2003. Bangladesh won by two wickets after being given a second innings target of 187.
- Australia defeated Bangladesh by an innings and 132 runs in Darwin in July 2003. Bangladesh's best batsman Habibul Bashar scored 54 off 82 balls before being bowled by Stuart MacGill. Both Australian and Bangladesh players were presented with commemorative medallions by NT Minister for Sport John Ah Kit and Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman. The medallions were to mark the test cricket match between the two countries.
- Sri Lanka defeated the Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI in a four-day cricket match in June 2004. Sri Lanka won by five wickets, chasing 187 to win. Tillakaratne Dilshan was not out of 66.
- Australia defeated Sri Lanka at Marrara Oval in July 2004 by 149 runs. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 97 and 162. Australian bowler Michael Kasprowicz finished with figures of 7-39. Sri Lanka criticized the condition of the Mararra Oval wicket in the wake of the defeat. Acting Australian captain Adam Gilchrist stated that the wicket was "...not quite up to Test standard".
- Darwin hosted an AFL match between Collingwood and the Aboriginal All-Stars on 12 February 1994. The All-Stars beat Collingwood 13-10 (88) to 10-8 (68). Prime Minister Paul Keating tossed the coin at the beginning of the match.
- The Western Bulldogs defeated Essendon 18.12 (120) to 14.8 (92) in an Ansett Cup match on 13 February 1999.
- The Western Bulldogs defeated Carlton 17.14 (116) to 10.10 (70) at TIO Stadium on 18 June 2005. The match was played in front of 13,047 fans.
- Port Adelaide defeated the Western Bulldogs 14.21 (105) to 13.13 (91) on 7 August 2006 at TIO Stadium. The match was played on front of a record crowd of 14,100 people.
- The Western Bulldogs defeated The Fremantle Dockers by 26 points at TIO stadium on 16 June 2007.
- The Western Bulldogs defeated Port Adelaide 20.15 (135) to 11.15 (81) at TIO Stadium on 28 June 2008 in front of 11,400 fans. The victory gave the Bulldogs a temporary hold on the top of the AFL ladder.
- The Bangladesh national cricket team played three One Day International (ODI) matches in Australia in 2008 at Marrara Oval, Darwin. The Australians, captained by Michael Clarke, comfortably swept the series 3-0.
- The Western Bulldogs defeated Port Adelaide 21.11 (137) to 7.2. (44) at TIO Stadium on 13 June 2009.
- Port Adelaide defeated Richmond in an AFL match at TIO Stadium on 28 May 2011. The final score was 13.11 (89) to 10.14. (74).
- The Western Bulldogs defeated The Gold Coast Suns in an AFL match at TIO Stadium on 18 May 2012. The Bulldogs overcame a three-point deficit at halftime to win 9.18 (72) to 4.10 (34).
- The Western Bulldogs defeated Port Adelaide at TIO Stadium on 1 June 2013. The final score was 10.7 (67) to 8.10 (58).
- The Parramatta Eels were defeated by The West Tigers 20-4 in a NRL match at Anzac Oval in Alice Springs on 16 February 2015. The West Tigers were presented with the RFDS Challenge trophy after their victory by Chief Minister Adam Giles, minister Gary Higgins and Royal Flying Doctor Service chief executive Mick Toomey. The Parramatta Eels were sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.
- The West Coast Eagles defeated The Melbourne Demons in an AFL match at TIO Stadium on 4 July 2015. The final score was 16.18 (114) to 9.6 (60).
- The Parramatta Eels defeated the Penrith Panthers 10-4 in an NRL match at TIO Stadium on 8 August 2015.
- Darwin hosted the quarter-final tie of the Davis Cup starting July 17, 2015. A grass stadium court and two practice courts were built for the event. Lleyton Hewitt led Australia to victory over Kazakhstan with a straights set win over Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the final deciding match. In doing so Australia came back from a 2-0 deficit. It was reported that 12,332 people attended the three-day quarter final tie.
- Hawthorn Football Club brought their 2013, 2014 and 2015 premiership cups to Darwin on 16 November 2015. The cups were on display at the Waratah Sports Club.
- Palmerston Magpies were affected by the Essendon supplements scandal when Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta were suspended in January 2016. Jetta played in the side's mid-field while Davey was the team's coach. Davey and Jetta were two of 34 current and former Essendon players banned for the 2016 season. The Northern Territory was the only place in Australia where Australian Rules Football was played at the time of the announcement of the suspensions.
- Peter "The Chief" Graham defeated Julius "Towering Inferno" Long for the World Boxing Foundation heavyweight championship at the Darwin Convention Centre on February 27, 2016. Graham won on points after a cut above his right eye caused the fight to be stopped. It was judged that the cut was a result of an accidental head clash. Graham was ahead on all three judges' scorecards after five rounds of the 12 round contest.
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