ASB Community Trust supports AFLNZ success

The ASB Community Trust has supported the success of AFL New Zealand’s programmes, helping more participants play more sport.

Featuring a special focus on the Northland region, the ASB Community Trust’s funding grant has allowed the continuation of an employment structure tasked with delivering AFL New Zealand programmes to tens of thousands of participants.

In Northland, AFL New Zealand added a further 1200 Primary School participants across 2013, as well as 1267 new participants at secondary school level. The combined total of Northland participants across 2013 (2467 participants), was an increase on 2012. (2078 participants). This jump can be attributed to a rise in the number of secondary school engaged throughout the region.

The feedback from these schools has been overwhelmingly positive. Andrea Cameron of Tikipunga High School was particularly impressed by the delivery of the AFL Secondary Schools programme:

“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.

This progress in Northland was part of a wider national effort, which saw a further 24,579 Primary School participants being introduced to AFL through the AFL KiwiKick programme nationwide.ASB Trust Logo

Across New Zealand more than 620 hours of AFL Secondary School programmes were delivered to 3763 participants, both male and female. This included coaching, match play experience and programmes designed to enhance the life and workplace skills of secondary school participants.

Since the inception of AFL KiwiKick in 2009, many of the early participants have now gone on to be involved with AFL at Secondary School level. Development of participation pathways is a high priority for AFL New Zealand, and through the ASB Community Trust funding we have been able to ensure that a long – term pathway exists for all.

In 2013 AFL New Zealand further supplemented the participation pathway through the introduction of Play AFL Clubs, designed to offer all participants, regardless of age or ability, the opportunity to play AFL. Play AFL Clubs were opened at four locations in Auckland, one location in Whangarei and two locations in Wellington. Play AFL Clubs are scheduled to restart in term 4 of 2014.

2013 also saw AFL New Zealand enhance the activities of the High Performance programme in Northland. This included an increased number of participants from Northland in both male and female teams and a Regional Combine to test the skills of talented athletes.

Whangarei witnessed the first international AFL match played in Northland, between the Under 18 New Zealand Kahus and the Australian Youth Girls. The New Zealand Kahus, of whom approximately a third were from the Northland region, became the first female AFL representatives from New Zealand.

This included Setarah Brown, who was named the Whangarei Girls High School athlete of the year, thanks to representing New Zealand. In the male High Performance programme, Te Rei Clark of Whangarei Boys High School captained the Under 16 New Zealand Hawks in a series against a touring Australian Indigenous team.

Athletes from Northland featured strongly in the recent AFL New Zealand National Combine. Ben Armstrong and Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas of Bay of Islands College produced incredible scores in the agility test, showing the depth of talent coming out of Northland.

AFL New Zealand programmes are designed to each be part of a wider effort to make AFL a sustainable New Zealand sport, both within and out of schools. Through our participation pathways and volunteer accreditation and retention initiatives the groundwork is being laid.

AFL is the perfect sport for encouraging participation in all sports. AFL KiwiKick and AFL Secondary School programmes are valuable for enhancing the movement skills of participants, regardless of their sport. Volunteers and teachers are upskilled through becoming accredited AFL KiwiKick coaches.

Former Secondary school students have entered the workforce after undertaking AFL New Zealand programmes aimed at developing their skills as communicators, coaches and organisers, using AFL as a context.

The historic ANZAC Day AFL match in Wellington, which was the first competition game played outside Australia, can also be partially attributed to ASB Community Trust funding. The significant participation numbers in AFL New Zealand programmes made New Zealand an attractive destination for the AFL to expand into.

With the support of the ASB Community Trust, AFL New Zealand is looking forward to continuing and expanding these programmes. As a new and dynamic sport in New Zealand, AFL New Zealand ideally placed to deliver on the outcomes specified by the ASB Community Trust.