Sports

APY Lands footy league suspended over violence

A sports league based in the APY Lands and southern Northern Territory has been suspended indefinitely because of on-field violence involving both players and spectators.

The SANFL has suspended the Far North West Sports League, which involves football and softball, ahead of a meeting on Friday to discuss its future.

SANFL community football manager Matt Duldig said the decision was made in discussion with SA Police and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which funds the league.

It came after a "string of incidents" at both football and softball matches involving "a number of clubs over a number of weeks".

"We needed to step in, suspend it immediately and work with the communities to make sure the football on the weekend is a place where everyone comes to get along and is a really safe environment for those on the field and also the young kids growing up," Mr Duldig said.

He said it was not an "epidemic" but there had been many small incidents, sometimes involving spectators.

"There's some issues in the community that are being brought to the oval, which is bringing violence onto the fields," he said.

"Obviously, we don't condone any sort of violence and we wanted to make a stand and this was the way to do it."

The league was also suspended for four weeks last year.

No other leagues run by the SANFL have ever been suspended.

Aim to get back on the field this year

The meeting on Friday in Adelaide will include representatives from the SANFL, the Prime Minister's Department, SA Police and key members of the communities.

Craig Woods, Mutitjulu local

"We want to put measures in place and a process so we can get football back up and running in the very near future," Mr Duldig said.

The Far North West Sports League includes nine South Australian teams and one from Mutitjulu, a community at the base of Uluru.

The Mutitjulu Cats joined this year.

Their coach, Craig Woods, said players were disappointed at the suspension, especially since much of the violence was instigated by spectators.

Young players not involved in the violence will compete on Thursday for the Lands Cup at Adelaide Oval.

They will play a team from Maralinga, in the state's far west, ahead of the AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and Geelong.

"The players that are part of the team want to play with very good sportsmanship," Mr Woods said.

"They're being rewarded for how they go about their games."

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