The inaugural AFL New Zealand Women’s Heritage Team has been selected for 2021, showing the depth of involvement New Zealanders have in AFL at the highest level.
Following on from AFL New Zealand’s introduction of the Men’s Heritage team in 2013 and the inception of AFLW in 2017, playing stocks within the AFLW competition have continued to grow to the extent where the Women’s Heritage Team can now be released for the first time.
The 2021 Heritage team boasts an exciting mix of established AFL stars such as Jasmine Garner from the North Melbourne Football Club, Brisbane Lions star Jesse Wardlaw, youthful talent as well as home grown New Zealand representatives.
To meet the criteria to be selected in the AFLNZ heritage team, each player must either have been born in New Zealand or have New Zealand parentage.
The 2021 team consists of 18 players currently playing regularly in the AFLW competition for their respective clubs.
Youth development programmes implemented by AFL New Zealand continue to work towards a lifetime of involvement with the sport. Equal importance is placed on both the starting point of teaching school children the fundamentals by way of the AFL KiwiKick programme, involvement in Regional Leagues throughout New Zealand all the way through to high performance training for athletes seeking higher honours with AFL.
The introduction of the AFLNZ Youth Competition in 2015 was a major success in placing High School aged students on the pathway to AFL.
This is great news for the future of the sport in both countries. New Zealanders moving to Australia will have an understanding and enjoyment of the game, and Australian clubs will have a bigger pool of talented players to select from. The New Zealand Heritage Team is a reflection of the strong links that already exist between the two countries. A passion for AFL is one of those links that is growing stronger every year.