The North Coast could support an elite sport team in future

COULD an elite sporting team make its home on the New South Wales North Coast?

It may make me sound a little too fanatical about my sport, but it is a question I have considered on more than one occasion since I moved to the region.

And now I am asking for your two cents.

The Clarence Valley, and by extension the NSW North Coast, has had a few visits from elite teams and athletes over the years but none of the major codes have ever set up shop in the region.

Yamba Sports Complex hosted what is believed to be the first NRL team to train in the area when the Gold Coast Titans came to town last week.

The Titanic contingent, led by Lower Clarence Magpies junior and 194-game veteran prop Luke Douglas and former Grafton Ghost Anthony Don, stopped by several local schools on Monday before spending the week training at Coffs Harbour.

At this stage, this is the last visit to the Clarence Valley by any NRL-affiliated clubs for the foreseeable future.

Down the road at Coffs Harbour, a noted rugby league stronghold, there are no NRL events planned either.

The previously annual training camp and trial game featuring South Sydney Rabbitohs disappeared from the calendar earlier this year with no replacement on the horizon.

Group 2 president Warren Gilkinson said part of the reason could be the new pre-season competition Auckland Nines, which will debut in 2014.

"All that is set for the Coffs area is the Northern New South Wales Country Championships for the under-16s and 18s," Gilkinson said.

"They'll be held in about May next year.

"We had the Titans down here (in Coffs) last week but that's it." The much- anticipated Nines tournament takes the place of at least one trial game for each team, meaning there is even less chance of preseason games in the country NSW.

The other major football codes seem to have taken full advantage of the absence, with at least two AFL clubs confirming training camps in Coffs Harbour.

Geelong Cats will be in Coffs from December 12 to December 20, with a small group of Sydney Swans players making the trip in February.

The biggest coup for Coffs, which could have a flow-on effect to the Clarence Valley, is their shortlisting as a possible host for an Asian Cup team in 2015.

Australia will host the competition in 2015 with games set to be played in five cities: Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle.

An initial list of 50 cities was culled to just 27 last week, with Coffs Harbour the northernmost NSW city putting its hand up.

According to a Football Federation Australia statement released last week, Coffs is considered to be in an "advantageous position to take a team because of the logistical benefits such as having an airport, hotels and accessibility to the city".

I believe the New South Wales North Coast could support an elite team and the Hyundai A-League could be the most likely competition.

Despite continually denying any move, the Melbourne Heart, which played a trial game against Brisbane Roar in Lismore during the pre-season, has been plagued with relocation rumours for the last few seasons.

If they were to receive the boot, Coffs Harbour could serve as the perfect new spot for a team.

The team could have the full support of North Coast NSW, has a 20,000 capacity stadium to come to coupled with the logistical benefits listed above.

The same argument holds true for rugby league, union and AFL. We just need to take the chance.

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