The best of the state’s rural footballers will arrive in the Riverland for the 2018 SA Country Football Championships this Saturday and Sunday.
For the first time, after an exhibition game last year at Johnstone Park, in Murray Bridge, there will be an inaugural women's competition with five zones sending participants.
South Australian National Football League community football manager Matt Duldig said the competition would give leading rural female footballers the opportunity to test their skills against the best country competitors across the the state.
“It’s fantastic to provide women with the opportunity to play at the MAC SA Country Championships,’’ Duldig said.
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‘’We’ve all seen how popular Australian football has become through the advent of AFLW and the SANFL Statewide Super Women’s League, so it’s great to see this is another extension of that.’’
On the men's side the Murray South East Zone will be looking to win an unequalled third consecutive title under this format, coached by Adam ‘Hogget’ Merrett from Penola.
Another long term servant at this level, Barry Pilmore, will coach the Southern Zone again, while successful and undefeated former SA Country coach Steve Lubcke is in charge of the Central Zone.
Former Southern Flinders footballer and coach Scott Brand is in charge of the Northern Zone for a fifth year as they endeavour to procure its first title, while another state country footballer with All-Australian honours, Leigh Kruger, is in charge of the Eastern Zone.
For the Eyre Peninsula (Western Zone) side, long term player and administrator, Scott Feltus is in charge.
On Saturday the men play two games, comprising of 15 minute halves, with the undefeated teams playing in the grand final to culminate in the titles on Sunday afternoon.
After the championship, a team of the carnival will be selected and this will form the nucleus of the team for the SA Country state game against WA at Adelaide Oval on Sunday, July
The Country Championships have seen AFL footballers such as former Geelong three-time premiership great Corey Enright, Adelaide and Melbourne football club best and fairest winner Bernie Vince, Essendon utility Mason Redman and Hawthorn key forward Tim O'Brien as participants before going on to have careers at the top level of the game.
Renmark Oval – Group 1: Murray South East, Eastern, Central; Group 2: Southern Districts, Western, Northern
Saturday, July 7
10:00am – Western v Southern Districts
11:10am – Murray South East v Central
12:20pm – Southern Districts v Northern
1:30pm – Central v Eastern
2:40pm – Western v Northern
3:50pm – Eastern v Murray South East
Sunday, July 8
8:00am Auskick Clinic
9:30am – 3rd in Group One v 3rd in Group Two
11:15am – 2nd in Group One v 2nd in Group Two
1:00pm – 1st in Group One v 1st in Group Two
Saturday, July 7 – (Renmark FC Oval 2)
9:15am – Central v Eastern
10:00am – Northern v Southern
10:45am – South East v Central
11:30am – Eastern v Northern
12:15pm – Southern v South East
1:00pm – Northern v Central
1:45pm – Southern v Eastern
2:30pm – South East v Northern
3:15pm – Central v Southern
4:00pm – Eastern v South East
Sunday, July 8 (Renmark FC Oval 2)
10am – 1st Ranked Team v 2nd Ranked Team