National Gridiron League of Australia Announces Its 4th team – the North Coast Heat

The National Gridiron League of Australia has announced the addition of the North Coast Heat to the league. The Heat is the fourth team launched under the league’s banner joining the Brisbane Outlaws, Gold Coast Kings and Logan City Wolverines and represents the Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland.

In fact, for its 2016 start, the league will be made up of nine teams in Queensland and New South WalesQueensland will have four teams representing it while there will be five from New South Wales.

NGL - 4pic logo

Although many have questioned whether this new professional American football league will actually kick off in Australia, everything seems to be moving forward. The league, which has stated it will kick off August 7, 2016, has been signing coaches and players for all four teams announced so far.

The Heat has wasted no time already announcing the signing of former NFL coach Ken Flajole as their first head coach.  Flajole’s background in the NFL is impressive with stints with the Cleveland Browns (inside linebackers coach), St. Louis Rams (defensive coordinator), Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

NGL - Ken-Flajole

Ken Flajole

Plans are also underway to announce teams in other cities in New South Wales including Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong.

NGL player salaries in the initial stages are generally higher than in other parts of the world outside of North America but still very modest. Rumours of extravagant wages are, according to the league, just rumours, although the intention is to be on a par with the Canadian Football League within five years.  In addition to salaries, players and coaches receive accommodation, health insurance and other relevant expenses paid for. Some players can receive higher offers based on their value to the league.

According to NGL senior executives, the league is involved an a wide range of activities moving forward towards its launch next year. Everything from additional funding to merchandising, regional combines, media, a television network, sales and marketing staffing and much more is underway.

The NGL’s goal is ambitious. They want to transform American football into as popular a sport as there is in Australia, bringing it level with other sports such as the hugely popular Australian Rules Football which boasts an average attendance of more than 30,000 spectators per game.

Australia - map2

Nevertheless, the league has made steady progress and intends to have all nine teams in place in time to play an 18 week schedule running between August and December. Each team will play 16 games with two bye weeks. All games will be played in stadiums and all games will be televised nationally.

The promoters and organizers of the NGL are optimistic about the reception of the league by the Australian general public and intend an aggressive expansion of the league in forthcoming years. This includes not only adding more franchises but also expanding facilities and coaching staffs. American football players, coaches and trainers from Australia and many other countries are being recruited and are joining the league.

The league has as its goal;

“to popularize the sport across Australia by engaging the local populace through coaching camps which will eventually contribute future players to the League.”

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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