Step by step the footprint for AFL grows within New Zealand. For future success we require a steady and sure alignment of our major partners, strong governance and operational excellence.
The AFL New Zealand Board and employees look to punch above our weight within the competitive sports dynamic we are confronted by in New Zealand.
Following on from three AFL fixtures in Wellington, the St Kilda Football Club continue to showcase their intent in targeting international markets with New Zealand at the forefront of their strategy. The signing of Taranaki born Rowan Marshall, now sees four New Zealand born players on their roster and the search for new talent within AFL New Zealand High Performance continues. A St Kilda FC preseason camp held the Bay of Plenty in December continues engagement with a variety of facility and high performance organisations within New Zealand.
St Kilda’s desire to participate in AFL fixtures in New Zealand’s most populous centre, Auckland, has attracted the support of Regional Facilities Auckland and ongoing plans for the redevelopment of Western Springs Stadium. The long term vision of three annual AFL fixtures within New Zealand also provides added value to AFL New Zealand’s participation programmes. This has been recognised by St Kilda in conjunction with AV Jennings who will actively support AFL KiwiKick and Secondary Schools programmes through a sponsorship agreement in 2017.
St Kilda and AV Jennings are not alone in providing financial support to our community programmes. Early in 2016, Foundation North signed a three year funding agreement with AFL New Zealand providing a six figure sum over that period. This fantastic support along with further funding initiatives with Pelorus and Infinity Trusts, provides balance and certainty to our long term strategies.
Regional Facilities Auckland has been an essential partner in assisting our domestic competitions and the establishment of a new ground for the AFL New Zealand Premiership at QBE Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore. The ground condition and facilities has been a massive boost for local players and this will be further extended when a new hybrid turf field becomes available in mid March 2017. The first competitive sports match on the oval that backs on to the QBE Stadium will certainly cause a stir as the AFL posts are erected for the first time.
TVNZ and the Duke Channel have provided AFL with the ability to promote the game with confidence. Showcased on both SKY and Freeview, the 2016 AFL Premiership appeared on NZ screens in unprecedented levels. Screens were not restricted to New Zealand households and with TVNZ on demand, securing the ability to simulcast live matches, phones, computers and tablet screens broadcast live AFL to millions of New Zealanders at no cost.
The current status of our broadcast rights agreement came about through the magnificent efforts of more valued partner contributions. The AFL as our major partner, ensured that an international development focus was attributed to the need for broadcast. This coupled by great work from board members Toni Maree Carnie, and Australian based Deputy Chair Michael Nettlefold has resulted in the final result. The appointment of International Manager Grant Williams by the AFL along with the work of AFLNZ Board Members, Andrew McKenzie, Geoff Dickson, Andrew Sloman, Trina Tamati, Garry Carnachan and Tim Stevens, has resulted in the New Zealand AFL story continuing to maintain relevancy within AFL strategy.
AFL New Zealand Board Members
High Performance is an attractive proposition for our market and this is evident through the continual expansion of the programme. 2016 saw four teams/associations visit our shores and one Australian tour reciprocated by our Under 18’s. This will grow again in 2017 with the International Cup added to an already packed itinerary.
With the introduction of two new domestic participation initiatives, the Regional Youth Competition and the AFL New Zealand Premiership, it can be understood how much reliance we have on the dedicated, concerted and efficient performances of our fulltime and casual workforce. The importance of these competitions has been recognised by Sport New Zealand with strong financial support and the benefits of coach, umpire, manager and player development are now filtering through to member clubs within the regions.
The monitoring of the organisations current commitments and our ability to carry out the determined strategies, require constant assessment. Our current partners are now providing AFL New Zealand with the highest level of engagement and support of my ten year tenure. A team effort.