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NTFL representative teams to face Essendon VFL and VFLW sides

Jackson Clark -

The Northern Territory Football League will face Essendon's VFL and VFLW sides in next year's representative games in Darwin.

The NTFL representative game is one of the most anticipated events on the local footy calendar and on Friday evening the Bombers were confirmed as the Territory team's opponents.

Next season's games will be held on Wednesday, January 24, on Larrakia Country at TIO Stadium.

Essendon are a fitting choice for opponent having enjoyed a strong connection to the Northern Territory since first touring to take on the NTFL back in 1986.

In that game, the Territory team led by legendary local coach John Taylor defeated the Bombers by 19 points in front of a huge crowd at Gardens Oval.

The NTFL went on to win a further three times against the Bombers, recording victories in 1989, 1994 and 1998.

The club have also had the Tiwi region as a Next Generation Academy zone for the past six years.

Tiwi-born Anthony Munkara playing for Essendon's VFL team this year. (Image: AFL)

The Bombers journey to the area several times per year to support local communities and to provide pathways for young footballers.

It is believed that as part of the representative game, the VFL and VFLW teams will provide opportunities for emerging players from the Tiwi Bombers.

Essendon CEO Craig Vozzo believes next year's trip will strengthen the relationship between the club and the Territory, particularly the Tiwi Islands.

"The Tiwi Islands holds a special place at Essendon, and we are thrilled to be heading north to take on both the men's and women's Northern Territory Football League representative sides in Darwin," he said.

"This is an excellent opportunity to further enhance our connection to our Next Generation Academy zone, the Tiwi Bombers and the wider Northern Territory.

"It will be an excellent showcase of football, and we look forward to taking on the best talent from the Northern Territory."

AFL Northern Territory boss Sam Gibson said that he was pleased Essendon would be the Territory's opponent.

"Essendon has a significant connection with the Top End with many former NT names connected with the red and black," Gibson said.

"The Tiwi Islands has seen considerable benefits from the Next Generation Academy that has been in place since 2017.

"It will be a showcase of the exceptional talent of the Northern Territory Football League players, and an opportunity to celebrate the history of representative football in the NT."

The NTFL women's representative team will play Essendon's VFLW team. (Image: AFLNT)

The mid-week timeslot has caused some controversy as the NTFL competition has been fixtured on the surrounding weekends.

Most of the Territory players will be coming off a four-day break from the previous weekend's games, while St Marys and PINT have been scheduled to face off the following night after the representative game.

The NTFL representative team has recently posted wins against SANFL teams Glenelg and Woodville West Torrens, and last year defeated WAFL powerhouse South Fremantle.

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