The Great Southern Football League and the City of Victor Harbor is the new successful partnership in the region after being rewarded to host the 2021 Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships, to be held next July.
Victor Harbor will welcome some 500 players, umpires and volunteers, as well as thousands of spectators, across the weekend of July 10 - 11 following its successful bid to host the return of the championships next year.
To be played at Victor Harbor and Encounter Bay football ovals, the event - cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic - will see the state's best male and female country footballers come together to represent their region across the two-day carnival
The bid had the support of high profile Great Southern and AFL stars Tony Modra, who will be the Southern zone ambassador for the championships and Ryan Griffen who played junior football at Goolwa.
"It is wonderful to have the championships here in our region, as we will see the best of the best in country football played at the Victor and Bay ovals," Tony Modra said.
Ryan Griffen said it was "awesome" to host the championships.
Great Southern Football League President Terry Corcoran said the Southern Districts Zone community, including Southern Football League and Kangaroo Island Football League, were "genuinely excited" about hosting the event in 2021.
"These championships will give the Fleurieu Peninsula an opportunity to put our hospitality on display to the South Australian football community and we welcome the Country Football Zones to our backyard," Mr Corcoran said.
"I assure all of the Zones that the GSFL clubs and their great band of volunteers, along with the Victor Harbor community, will go out of their way to make their visit an enjoyable one."
The City of Victor Harbor sees the potential of hosting the event with a pre-budget commitment of $30,000 cash and $5000 in-kind support in the 2021-22 financial year.
Chief Executive Officer of the City of Victor Harbor Victoria MacKirdy said the championships provided an opportunity to showcase the city, particularly its great sporting facilities and tourism offerings.
"It will also provide a significant injection into our local economy with around 4500 to 5000 footballers, officials and supporters expected to descend on Victor Harbor during our traditionally quieter winter period," Ms MacKirdy said.
"The Great Southern Football League and all of those who worked tirelessly to secure this event for Victor Harbor and the region are to be commended."
In previous years the championships have generated in excess of $500,000 to towns such as Port Pirie, Murray Bridge, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln.
The Championships include teams from six country zones covering the whole state and involve men's and women's competitions and a SANFL League game.
The SANFL intends to program a Statewide Super League regional match in the 2021 fixture as part of the event on the back of the success of the 2019 Country Championships in Port Pirie, which featured a SANFL regional match for the first time.
SANFL Head of Community Football Lisa Faraci said the Championships would provide significant economic and social benefits for all clubs in the Great Southern Football League as well as the wider Victor Harbor community.
"The Country Championships have become a significant event for community football in regional South Australia over the years and we're thrilled to be planning for its return in 2021," Ms Faraci said.
"Regional communities and footy clubs have been doing it tough this year, so this is an exciting opportunity to increase participation, bring people together and assist regional footy on its road to recovery.
"This will also be a fantastic opportunity for Encounter Bay Football Club to capitilise on its new $975,000 facility, to be completed early next year."
This will be the first time the Great Southern Football League will host the Think! Road Safety SA Country Championships.
Ms Faraci also acknowledged the continuing support of the Country Championships' naming rights partner, Think! Road Safety, for Community Football in South Australia.
"The State Government's support, through its Think! Road Safety brand, for regional football across South Australia has been unwavering, even throughout such a challenging year," Ms Faraci said.
"Without this valuable partnership, which also helps to drive home the vital message and education about road safety via our football community, events such as the Country Championships would not be possible."