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Ballarat is Roos new 'home'


AFL TEAM North Melbourne wants to make Ballarat its regional "home away from home".
Kangaroos chief executive officer Eugene Arocca is eager to see the club and City of Ballarat form an ongoing, tight-knit bond.

The two entities already share common ground.

* North Melbourne will again play Richmond this year in what is known as the "Eureka Game" - initiated last season to recognise, celebrate and educate football followers about the important role workers have played in shaping

and advancing Australian life since the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat in 1854;

* The Kangaroos have an "undeniably strong" on-field alignment with VFL reigning premier North Ballarat; and

* North Melbourne vice-captain Drew Petrie hails from Ballarat.

But for Arocca, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

He told The Courier yesterday that North Melbourne was seeking Ballarat City Council support to take the growing relationship to a higher and more substantial standing.

Arocca said the move was not about attracting more North Melbourne members or supporters.

"It's more global than that.

"We're looking to make Ballarat as a regional city a key focus of North Melbourne Football Club," he said.

Arocca believes Drew Petrie is a central figure to the growth of the relationship.

He said Ballarat had a great football tradition, having produced a string of VFL/AFL champions.

Arocca said the highly regarded Petrie was the latest in this line, and someone Ballarat should be highly proud of.

He said developing a close bond with Ballarat was a way North Melbourne could repay the city.

"It's the least we can do."

A two-day AFL community camp in Ballarat next month will be the Kangaroos' next major step in forging a close relationship with the city.

North Melbourne will spend Monday and Tuesday, February 2 and 3, in Ballarat - leading clinics, community forums, and visiting schools, hospitals and other community facilities.

The camp is part of the AFL's annual program which sends clubs Australia-wide and overseas.

North Melbourne lobbied the AFL to be allocated Ballarat for the camp.

Arocca said North Melbourne was also planning to run an annual family day in Ballarat - completely separate to the camps.

He said the first of the family days would hopefully take place this year.

"It'll be exciting to have a regional visit every year," he said.