Counties kids have a go at AFL

Thousands of children from around the Counties Manukau region have taken part in AFL, thanks to a partnership between AFL New Zealand and Counties Manukau Sport.

The Regional Sporting Trust has supported a project that has seen hundreds of children undertake six sessions of fundamental  movement skills coaching, and thousands of children take part in Have a Go Days across the region.

Across Dawson School, Panama Road School and Kedgely Intermediate, more than 800 children developed an affinity for the sport through the AFL KiwiKick programme, providing them with an introduction to the game and with skill development.

The project has reached the halfway stage, with more schools and more AFL KiwiKick planned for next year.

Another heartening aspect of the programme was the participation of more than 100 students across those three schools in AFL KiwiKick After School programmes, providing the participants with the opportunity to further develop their skills. Children involved in this programme were also provided with a ball, bag and hat, to enable ongoing activity.

The project with Counties Manukau Sport also focused on creating a pathway for ongoing activity through an AFL KiwiKick After School Programme, which was taken up by 15% of the rolls of each school participating in the project.

Professional development, resources and support has also been provided to teachers at these schools, to allow them to continue AFL activities following the conclusion of programme delivery.

In conjunction with other sports, AFL KiwiKick was delivered to thousands of children through Have a Go Days, organised by Counties Manukau Sport. These were delivered over the period between March and December at the following schools:

  • Southern Cross Campus
  • Sutton Park School
  • Otahuhu Intermediate
  • Mangere East School
  • Manurewa East School
  • Koru School
  • Dawson School
  • Redoubt North School
  • East Tamaki School
  • Wymondley Road School
  • Puhinui School
  • Mangere Bridge School
  • Flat Bush School
  • Papatoetoe North School
  • Sir Edmond Hillary Collegiate School
  • Bairds Mainfreight Primary School
  • Rongomai School

These Have a Go Days allowed participants to get a taste of a range of sports, and were enjoyed by all.

Current U18 NZ Kahu captain Hope Schuster from Aorere College, in action against the Australian Youth Girls.
Current U18 NZ Kahu captain Hope Schuster from Aorere College, in action against the Australian Youth Girls.

Throughout the year, AFL New Zealand Secondary School programmes also took place in Counties. One of these schools in particular, Southern Cross Campus went on to win the Junior Secondary AFL North Island Championships, a fantastic achievement in a competitive tournament. Earlier in the year, Aorere College won the Female Senior Secondary AFL North Island Championships, with a team that featured a few current New Zealand Kahu AFL representatives.

Participants in the Hawks Cup have gone on to become part of the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme, and over the years of AFL New Zealand’s involvement in the Counties region, many have gone on to play in the Auckland AFL Senior Club league.

Schools in Counties Manukau have provided many players who have gone on to represent their country, in both male and female teams. These representatives include current U18 New Zealand Kahu captain Hope Schuster, also from Aorere College. The opportunities provided to these athletes to play for New Zealand comes directly from the involvement of AFL New Zealand in programmes at their school.

Recently the St Kilda Football Club visited schools in the Counties Manukau region for an AFL Community Camp, including Aorere College, a strong sporting school that has two AFL International Scholarship players currently attending. Giovanni Mountain Silbery was signed to the St Kilda Saints earlier this year, with Siope Ngata signed to the Hawthorn Hawks in 2013.

Other schools visited included Bairds Mainfreight Primary School and Kedgely Intermediate.

The future is bright for AFL KiwiKick in the region, with more school visits planned for next year to complete the project with Counties Manukau Sport.