Gunnedah Bulldogs hosted their AFL North West junior gala day on Sunday, June 18, aimed at increasing junior popularity and participation in Australian Rules football.

Viewed as a big success, more than 100 children aged 5-12 years attended the Gunnedah gala day at Donnelly Playing Fields – an initiative from the North West AFL to combine games from Glen Innes, Inverell, Armidale, Tamworth, Narrabri and Gunnedah into one location each fortnight. 

Sunday’s action-packed gala day coincided with an Auskick session held for children 5-8 years in conjunction with non-competitive matches in under 10 and under 12 age groups.

While no scores were kept on the day, it is believed the Gunnedah Pups went through their four matches in each respective age group undefeated.

Also featured on the day was a competitive under 14 AFL North West fixture, hosted by the Gunnedah Bulldogs club, between the Tamworth Roosters and Inverell Saints. That match was won by the Inverell Saints, but the major ‘winners’ were all players who participated on the day. 

Gunnedah junior club coordinators Belinda Barrow and Rebecca Tunbridge were chief organisers of the day, with 12 matches divided between three fields in the under 10 and under 12 age groups.

The coordinators were ecstatic with the participation, but also the senior Poochettes and Bulldogs players for their efforts in the gala day.

“So many families have come to me and expressed how wonderful the day was run and how smoothly things operated,” Barrow said.

“We could never have imagined that it was going to be this big, more than 100 kids and so many families to town is so great for not just AFL as a sport but for Gunnedah as a town to show what we can produce.

“All the kids had a blast and they were so excited to see senior players down there helping – it lit up their faces and inspired them.”

Gunnedah Bulldogs club president Andy Mack returned praise to the Gunnedah junior AFL committee, making special mention of the efforts of Barrow and Tunbridge.

“Bel and Bec have done an amazing job organising today and it’s been such a special occasion – our first ever junior gala day,” Mack said.

“Couldn’t praise them enough for how big the day was and how well it ran – it wouldn’t have happened without their passion for the kids and junior AFL.

“To see so many kids out here and their parents enjoy the day too was the most pleasing aspect, it’s a landmark day for the club and it’s bright future with the little footy stars we had on show.”

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