AFL New Zealand is currently providing a selection of sports development programmes in the Northland region. The project commenced December last year with over 1000 students participating in the new sport of AFL.
The funding for AFL KiwiKick and the AFL Pathway project is provided directly by Sport Northland, through the Sport New Zealand Regional Participation Fund. This funding is invaluable in allowing AFL New Zealand to deliver programmes that provide outcomes such as increased participation in sport, additional opportunities for young people to get involved in sport and improving the fundamental movement and sports skills of young people in the Northland region.
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.
AFL New Zealand will also be running a Play AFL Community Centre at Kensington Oval in Whangarei, beginning on October the 8th. Play AFL Community Centres cater to everyone, from AFL KiwiKick for children aged 5-12, to AFL 9s for secondary school students, to social and competitive teams for adults. Young, old, women, men, mixed teams, everyone can get involved every Tuesday evening from 4pm until 9pm.
A number of Primary Schools have been enthusiastic participants in the AFL KiwiKick programme this year. Onerahi Primary School, One Tree Point School, Mangakahia Area School, Pakotai School, Whangarei Primary School, Christian Renewal School and Maungatapere School have all been partners in the project to date.
Many secondary schools are also getting involved in AFL Pathway project, including Whangarei Boys High School, Whangarei Girls High School, Bay of Islands College, Tikipunga High School and Dargaville High School.
The feedback from these schools has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have contacted AFL New Zealand Northland Co-ordinator Paul Hope to express the enjoyment and learning experienced by the participants at their schools. Andrea Cameron of Tikipunga High School was particularly impressed by the delivery of the AFL Pathway project:
“Great programme, the kids and staff really appreciated it.” – Andrea Cameron, Tikipunga High School
Graham Elsmore at Christian Renewal School identified the value of the AFL KiwiKick programme in teaching fundamental movement skills:
“The skills they are teaching are most beneficial to other ball codes too. It is a great opportunity for staff to get professional development as they are introducing quite a number of new ideas.” Graham Elsmore, Associate Principal at Christian Renewal School
One of the most valuable outcomes of AFL KiwiKick is that it encourages students to live healthy lifestyles through sport. AFL KiwiKick ensures children are outside and active and having fun, while teaching skills in the process. The aim is to foster and encourage lifelong participation in sport, at every level.
The AFL Coach the Coaches programme provide secondary school students with valuable work experience, and a foot in the door into a career in sport. Students have the opportunity to become accredited AFL KiwiKick coaches, and once qualified can deliver AFL KiwiKick sessions in a local Primary Schools in conjunction with experienced AFL New Zealand staff.
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 the AFL Coach the Coaches, as they experience high quality focused coaching, with an excellent ratio of coaches to students.
Whangarei Girls High School recently participated in AFL Coach the Coaches, delivering AFL KiwiKick sessions near by Whangarei Primary School. The feedback was once again extremely positive:
“The kids were humming at the end of the day. Your teachers and girls did an awesome job. Looking forward to next weeks training.” – Pieter, Whangarei Primary School
AFL New Zealand is also developing High Performance pathways for promising young athletes, for both girls and boys. Highly talented female athletes from the Northland region have been invited to trial with the New Zealand U-18 Kahus, the inaugural New Zealand representative female AFL team in New Zealand. Many of them will represent their country in a series of matches against an equivalent team from Australia in October in Auckland and Whangarei.
Te Rei Clark from Whangarei Boys High School has been particularly impressive as part of a combined South Pacific team, competing in the NAB Australian National U-16 Championships in Sydney last week. Clark showed impressive skills, and is one of a growing number of candidates to have a chance of receiving an international scholarship with an AFL club, to further develop his talent into a pathway in professional sport.
Through the support of Sport Northland, AFL New Zealand has delivered high quality programmes to thousands of people in the Northland region. AFL New Zealand will look to continue these programmes, as they deliver key outcomes that encourage children to live healthy lifestyles through sport. Through these programmes, children in Northland will develop a lifelong connection to AFL and sport generally and will hopefully go on to be lifelong participants in sport.