Essendon Football Club is excited to announce that its VFL and VFLW teams will head to Darwin to take on the 2024 NTFL Representative sides. 

The two sides will face off against the best talent from the men’s and women’s Northern Territory Football Leagues on Wednesday, January 24 at TIO Stadium in Darwin. 

Essendon has a longstanding connection to the Tiwi Islands, with the area being a part of its Next Generation Academy (NGA) zone since 2017. 

But the club’s connection to the islands goes further back through affiliation with the Tiwi Bombers and some past Essendon Champions hailing from the islands, including dual Premiership player Michael Long, current board member and past player Dean Rioli and recently retired forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. 

Through their connection to the NGA zone, Essendon has assisted in providing pathways for AFL and AFLW hopefuls, sponsoring the Tiwi Bombers and helping improve community social outcomes.

Essendon CEO Craig Vozzo said this is another opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the club and their NGA zone, including the Tiwi Bombers.

The VFL/VFLW sides will also connect with the Tiwi Bombers and provide opportunities for emerging players as part of the games.

“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,” Vozzo 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.”

Tiwi Bombers President Lindsay Whiting said the Tiwi Bombers were thrilled to have Essendon heading to the Top End for the matches. 

“We are all excited to welcome Essendon’s VFL and VFLW teams to the Northern Territory and are looking forward engaging with them during their time here,” Whiting said. 

“It’s a great opportunity to highlight and provide opportunities for emerging Tiwi talent.”

This will be the fourth time Essendon’s VFL side has played against the NT Buffaloes and the first time the VFLW team has been involved in the clash. 

Head of AFL Northern Territory Sam Gibson was excited to announce the Bombers as the opponents for the NTFL Representative Sides. 

“We’re pleased to announce Essendon Football Club will be the next opponent to take on the NTFL Representative Sides,” Gibson said.

“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.

“Thanks you to Essendon for their commitment to NT Football.”