Continued growth of AFL in New Zealand backed by Foundation North

Foundation North has supported the success of AFL New Zealand’s programmes, helping more participants play more sport.


foundation-northFunding provided by Foundation North has provided a major contribution towards the continuation of an employment structure tasked with delivering AFL New Zealand programmes to tens of thousands of participants each year.

Throughout 2015, AFL New Zealand continues to conduct and deliver multiple programmes within the Auckland and Northland regions.

The Waitakere Play AFL Pathway Project included 7 Secondary Schools within the region taking part in multiple AFL New Zealand programmes over the past year.

In May of this year, Green Bay High School year 9 and 10 students completed the “Introduction to AFL” programme. Introduction to AFL teaches AFL skills and uses modified games to reach the end product of playing a full game of AFL9s. The programme can be combined with junior class units of work, linked to curriculum programmes and lead into other competition programmes.

At Waitakere College the year 13 students planned and implemented an “AFL House Rules” lunchtime competition. This programme focuses on providing students with easy access to participate in the new and dynamic sport of AFL. The competition takes place at a venue determined by the school, most often within their own school grounds. This alleviates travel costs for the school and the participants and more importantly provides opportunities to more students beyond the elite school representative teams.

The targeted outcomes for Waitakere College centred on increased participation and the creation of a viable pathway for their students to continue playing sport. Waitakere College will now look to enter both boys and girls teams into interschool competition through the Junior Hawks Cup in term 4 2015.

The Waitakere Play AFL Pathway project and subsequent delivery of sessions and competitions has seen seven individuals (4x Male, 3x Female) from Rutherford College, Green Bay High School, Henderson High School and Waitakere College represent New Zealand in AFL at U16 and U18 level.

Additionally, AFL New Zealand has been able to create the new exciting Youth competition to compliment the pathway for participants to excel in AFL.

Within the AFL New Zealand Youth competition there is a focus on improving athletes’ skills and fitness along with a training, game and a development programme that highlights the necessary requirements throughout the pathway.

The AFL New Zealand Youth Boys competition includes two major centres in Auckland and Wellington and the AFL New Zealand Youth Girls competition based in Auckland.

It will provide U13, U15 and U17 boys and girls with a top quality organised competition with opportunities in participation all the way through to the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the highest level.

In Northland, AFL New Zealand added a further 1205 Primary School participants in 2014/15, as well as 700 new participants at secondary school level. The AFL Secondary School programme were delivered to schools, stretching from Dargaville High School to Bay of Islands College.

This progress in Northland was part of a wider national effort. Over the past 5 years, Foundation North has helped introduce the AFL KiwiKick Programme to over 90,000 Primary School students nationwide. Across New Zealand AFL Secondary School programmes have been delivered to over 20000 participants, both male and female during this time frame. This included coaching, match play experience and programmes designed to enhance the life and workplace skills of secondary school participants.

“The AFL KiwiKick Programme has been very successful for us. It was well planned and delivered with logical progressions that were presented in terms that children could easily understand and remember. The KiwiKick staff were knowledgeable, friendly and approachable and responded to the needs of our staff and school. The sessions kept children active and engaged and promoted this amongst staff.” Tarayn Zeier, Sports Co-ordinators – Dawson School

Development of participation pathways is a high priority for AFL New Zealand, and through Foundation North, AFL New Zealand have been able to ensure that a long term pathway exists for all. 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.

The ability to cross reference the skills of AFL, show case it as 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 actively involved in sessions and upskilled through an accreditation process and finally become one of the 1200 people accredited through the AFL KiwiKick programme.

“My daughter came home from school with the flyer and (over several days) begged me to sign her up for the after-school KiwiKick programme. This is pretty unusual for her – her heart and soul has belonged to gymnastics since she was 2 years old, and despite being involved in her sister’s soccer and netball has never shown any real interest in ball sports.  She was persistent though, and kept telling me how fun it was and showing me all the things she’d learnt. So I have signed her up, and look forward to seeing the programme in action for myself over the coming weeks.” – Megan Hutchison

At the start of 2015, the organisation launched the AFL New Zealand Academy. It was created to provide further opportunities for athletes to excel through AFL.

This programme focused on improving the skills and fitness of athletes, through a training, development and match programme over 12 months.

In April 2015, a very successful AFL Academy culminated in Wellington, where the progression of 30 athletes from the Auckland and Northland regions completed their participation pathway. The culmination included a visit to Westpac Stadium to watch the annual ANZAC Day AFL game between St Kilda and Carlton. For most of the group it was the first time watching an AFL game live.

“There is no doubt that the successful hosting of an AFL Premiership in Wellington is directly attributable to the success of the numbers generated through our junior participation programmes. The numbers generated specifically within the Auckland region has shifted this focus to our next target of hosting a similar event in Auckland.”

AFL New Zealand CEO Robert Vanstam.

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.

With the support of Foundation North, 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 Foundation North.