NSW AFL happy with western Sydney match - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NSW AFL happy with western Sydney match

By Tom Wald 08/03/2009 05:18:10 PM Comments (0)

NSW AFL general manager Dale Holmes has described Saturday's practice match in western Sydney as a "seed" but whether an AFL side will truly blossom in the area remains to be seen.

The Swans played the Western Bulldogs in a practice match in Rouse Hill in north-western Sydney on Saturday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 3,500 people.

The demand was so strong for the clash at Bruce Purser Reserve AFL officials said they could have sold the clash out twice over.

But Holmes said it was the beginning of a long road before the introduction of a western Sydney AFL team, set down for the 2012 season.

"It is a step in the right direction, it is a seed," he said.

"What it means is that we are now able to bring out the elite level players and 3,500 people get to see that and feel like it is theirs because it is the local area which is different to perhaps going to a local stadium like ANZ Stadium.

"What we have done is bring the game out to the people and that is really important in developing areas like north-western Sydney."

Swans coach Paul Roos said there shouldn't be too much read into it.

"I think it is great for footy because it is such a great venue, a perfect night and the ground is in really good condition and a good crowd coming out," he said.

"In terms of a second team, I think it is a bit hard to tell based on this."

The 18th AFL side has plenty of hurdles to clear in the coming three years.

It must overcome the entrenched support for rugby league in western Sydney and draw fans away from the Swans which have now been established in the harbour city for almost three decades.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, who guided the Swans from 1996-2002, feared the global economic crisis could impact on the AFL's expansion plans.

"I suppose being a Tassie boy I would love a team in Tassie also. But there is a great big population out here and obviously it is developing," he said.

"I just hope the global economic crisis does not have an effect."

The western Sydney side's training base in Blacktown is expected to be ready for the under-16 national championships in July.

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