Wanderers set for top level

Ballarat will host the NAIDOC state football and netball carnival for the first time since 2010 this weekend.

The Koori carnival is set to attract nearly 20 football teams and over 40 netball sides.

Ballarat will have a number of teams competing in both, with the division one football side, Ballarat Wanderers, looking to pick up where it left off.

Ballarat claimed the division two title last year in Bendigo, going through the carnival undefeated to earn promotion to division one.

Captain Aaron Clarke said it had built on last year’s team and while the step-up to the top division is a reasonable one, he was optimistic it would be able to match it.

“It is a bit of a step-up but I think our team’s a lot stronger this year,” Clarke said.

“I personally think we’ve got a really good opportunity and real chance to take it out this year and hopefully go back-to-back.”

The Ballarat team has been training once a week for six weeks, but Clarke said a lot of the team had already played with each other in what will be a huge occasion for all team members.

Peter Lovett will again coach the side.

“For a lot of the community members playing, this is the only chance they get to play footy for the whole year.

“It’s one thing that definitely a lot of us look out for.

“Most of us know how we play together, a lot of us played in last year’s carnival.”

As is often the case, there will be a number of ex-AFL players running around.

Brett Goodes will again don the Ballarat guernsey, Matthew Stokes will represent the Geelong-based team while Aaron Davey and Chris Johnson may also play.

All division one matches will be played on Mars Stadium while division two will take place at Lake Wendouree.

Division one will see teams play three or four matches, AFL Goldfields set to finalise the fixture during the week, all vying for top four.

A Victorian side will be selected for both football and netball at the end of the carnival.

The carnival will kick-off on Friday night with a netball match between Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative staff and an all-star team while Fitzroy Stars take on Gulgurn Manja Gariewerd in a women’s football match.

PROUD: Wanderers captain Aaron Clarke during the CHFL season.

PROUD: Wanderers captain Aaron Clarke during the CHFL season.