Albany Junior High falling in love with AFL

The sport of AFL is gaining momentum at Albany Junior High School on Auckland’s North Shore, following the success of a KiwiSport funded project focusing on Secondary School participation.

The project is part of the KiwiSport initiative and is in partnership with Harbour Sport, North Harbour Badminton, Hockey and Volleyball. The four sports look to create a pathway for participants within the project commencing with the delivery of a selection of Secondary School programmes including taster sessions, opportunities to compete in school at both class and house level and finally school representative opportunities.

Each sports offering is unique and designed to link to further organised sporting opportunities for participants.

The Introduction to AFL programme was delivered to 504 students in Term 3 last year. Introduction to AFL teaches AFL skills and uses modified games to reach the end product of playing a full game of AFL. The programme can be combined with junior class units of work, linked to curriculum programmes and lead into competition programmes. The school also received an AFL Resource kit, which includes balls and goal posts. The kit is designed to help sustain the sport in the future.

Following the Introduction to AFL, Albany entered 3 teams into the Junior AFL Cup. The AFL Cup is an Inter School competition for Junior (Years 9-10) and Senior (Years 11-13) students based on fundamental movement and ball skills of AFL for boys and girls. The programme provides introductory sessions and resources presented by qualified AFL New Zealand Staff to introduce a new and dynamic sport to students. The skills of ‘Kick, Catch, Pass and Bounce’ are perfectly matched to cross reference any number of sports. The 9 a side format is suitable for rugby size fields and with three reserves per team, team numbers are easy to coordinate.

Outside of school time, opportunities continue with the pathway leading to the AFL New Zealand Youth Programme that runs from October to December each year. 6 students from Albany Junior High signed up to the Youth programme in 2020.

Further opportunities exist for participants to be selected in the AFL New Zealand Academy which focuses on improving the skills and fitness of athletes through the use of a training and development programme. From the AFL New Zealand Academy, the next step is the selection process for National Representative teams.