AFL catching on in Counties Manukau

Through the support of Counties Manukau Sport and Kiwisport, AFL New Zealand is delivering to 5000 primary school children as well as local secondary school students within the Counties region. AFL New Zealand will continue with these programmes, as they deliver on key outcomes that encourage children to live healthy lifestyles through sport.

Through these programmes, children in Counties Manukau will develop a connection to the sport of AFL and will go on to be lifelong participants in sport through a structured pathway available to all participants.

Primary and Secondary Schools across the region have been provided with high quality structured coaching programmes through AFL New Zealand. The AFL New Zealand Counties Project has so far been a stunning success, increasing the number of active participants in sport and delivering on key outcomes.

From the inception of the programme in 2011, fourteen schools to date have been introduced to the new and dynamic sport of AFL through the AFL KiwiKick programme.  AFL KiwiKick is delivered to boys and girls between the ages 5 and 12. The programme teaches children the fundamental movement skills of Kick, Catch, Pass and Bounce. These skills are valuable for a wide variety of sports, and the AFL KiwiKick programme ensures that everyone who participates is confident and competent with those skills. Qualified AFL KiwiKick coaches deliver structured sessions during school hours, with every child receiving six sessions of coaching.

To follow on from the six sessions during school time, the children have access to an after school programme that takes place within the school grounds directly after school. This provides the participants with easy access in a familiar setting and also provides parents with the opportunity of attending. At every school this opportunity has been eagerly taken up.

Two secondary schools have also been involved in AFL New Zealand programmes. Edgewater College has taken part in AFL Coach the Coaches. Students have the opportunity to become accredited AFL KiwiKick coaches, and once qualified can deliver AFL KiwiKick sessions in a local Primary School in conjunction with experienced AFL New Zealand staff. 23 Edgewater College students completed the programme.

The positive outcomes of AFL Coach the Coaches are many and varied. Participants in the programme typically report that their communication skills and confidence dramatically improves as a result of what they learn. The Primary School children also experience the advantages of AFL Coach the Coaches, as they receive high quality focused coaching, with an excellent ratio of coaches to students. The AFL Coach the Coaches programme provides secondary school students with valuable work experience, and a foot in the door into a career in sport.

Students at Papatoetoe High School have been regular participants in the Hawks Cup competition. This programme is one of the first steps in a High Performance pathway provided by AFL New Zealand.

Walter Fafita of Papatoetoe High School

Walter Fafita, a student at Papatoetoe High School, is currently involved with AFL at a representative level, playing a leading role for a combined South Pacific team in the NAB National U-16 Championships in Australia. Fafita has also played for the New Zealand Hawks at Under-16 Level. This follows on from previous recent years where leading students from Papatoetoe High School have also represented their country in AFL. Samiuela Tuitupou (2010/11) has played for the New Zealand Hawks at every age group level and Jesse Mager (2011/12) has been part of the team at Under 16 and Under 18 Level.

Professional development is also part of the package offered by AFL New Zealand, providing teachers the opportunity to further their skills, allowing schools to continue playing AFL to follow on from their initial introduction to AFL KiwiKick. Teachers enthusiastically attended professional development, learning how to deliver AFL KiwiKick sessions and control games of AFL. This will ensure that children can continue to be active sporting participants utilising the teachers newly developed skills following the departure of AFL New Zealand coaches associated with the AFL KiwiKick programme.

An encouraging number of teachers have taken up the opportunity. Across the region more than eighty teachers have completed the accreditation process. The training is useful not just for teaching AFL, but for teaching all sports offered at the school.

Finally, every school involved with the AFL New Zealand programme receives a resource kit to assist with ongoing activity. A combination of newly acquired teaching skills through AFL KiwiKick coaching accreditation and the resource kit, ensures that students can continue to play AFL. This kit includes footballs, goalposts, cones, a coaching manual and more.

For those who want to continue to be involved in AFL, a local  “Play AFL” Community Club has been developed at Papatoetoe Sports Centre, with its inaugural season in 2012 a great success. Competitions will be available for not only the children from the Counties Manukau region but also for teenagers, adults, female, male and mixed teams as well. Regardless of age or ability, there are opportunities for you to play AFL at your Play AFL Community Club.


For more information about AFL KiwiKick or AFL New Zealand, please visit the website.

AFL New Zealand would like to thank the following schools and partner organisations for their support:


Edgewater College

Papatoetoe High School

Nga Iwi Primary School

Pakuranga Intermediate School

Rosehill Intermediate School

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate

Papatoetoe West School

Clayton Park School

Manurewa South School

Mayfield Primary School

St Anne’s Catholic Primary School

Sancta Maria Primary School

St Mary Mackillop Catholic School

Dawson Primary School

Counties Manukau Sport


Papatoetoe Sports Centre


* Credit for title photo