The Hyundai A-League will head to Townsville this September when last season's semi-finalists, Melbourne City FC, venture north for a week-long pre-season camp ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
John van't Schip's team will play two friendly matches in North Queensland as City fine-tunes its pre-season preparations ahead of the A-League season opener on October 8.
City will meet its Round 1 A-League opponent, Wellington Phoenix, on September 11 as well as Townsville's own PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland team, Northern Fury FC on September 7. Both matches will take place at the Townsville Sports Reserve.
"The camp in Townsville will form an important part of our pre-season as we prepare for the A-League campaign in October," said City Head Coach John van't Schip.
"We've chosen a warmer climate where the local conditions, coupled with a week of high-intensity training and two matches against quality opposition, will provide us with the perfect preparation for the new season.
"It's also important for the team, the coaches and staff to spend time together in a different environment to gel, bond and, importantly, understand the way we want to play," van't Schip said.
The pre-season visit in September will also form part of a broader initiative to provide opportunities for young footballers from North Queensland to connect with Melbourne City FC.
City's first-team shot-stopper Thomas Sorensen was in Townsville this weekend to help deliver a youth goalkeeping clinic with Northern Fury.
"The tour forms an important part of our pre-season, with climate, weather conditions and facilities the key to making the time in Townsville valuable for us," said Melbourne City FC CEO, Scott Munn.
"It will be two or three weeks out from the season as well so we'll want to have some high intensity training and matches.
"In addition to the camp and matches, we're keen to engage with Northern Fury and better understand player pathways for boys and girls in Townsville and the North Queensland region and develop a plan around how we can support them," Munn said.
Northern Fury coach, Ian Ferguson, said that it was a thrill for the Northern Fury players to have an opportunity to play Melbourne City.
"It's a huge step-up for the Northern Fury boys to play an A-League team, but it's a wonderful opportunity and experience for them.
"I hope that football fans from around the region recognise what an opportunity this is for local players, as well as local fans."
Northern Fury Chairman, Rabieh Krayem, said he looks forward to building a long-term relationship with Melbourne City FC.
"We're thrilled to have both Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix join us for their pre-season this year.
"Regional clubs like Fury have specific needs compared with big cities, and we appreciate that an A-League club and a regional club in the next level of competition can work together for the advancement of football," Mr Krayem said.
Price and ticketing details for the two matches will be available next week.
Northern Fury FC v Melbourne City FC
Wednesday 7 September
Townsville Sports Reserve
Melbourne City FC v Wellington Phoenix FC
Sunday 11 September
Kick-off: 3pm (12.30pm: Northern Fury FC U16 v Mackay U16 )
Townsville Sports Reserve