Players and spectators alike responded enthusiastically to the games of AFL KiwiKick and AFL 9s played on the Westpac Stadium turf at half time of the ANZAC Day clash.
Led by AFL New Zealand staff, the players streamed onto the field after the half time siren sounded. They were clearly excited to be there, shown by the waves to the crowd as they ran out.
Many of the children participating in the half-time AFL KiwiKick game had already learned the skills through the AFL KiwiKick in-school programme. These programmes have been provided thanks in part to KiwiSport funding, directed through Sport Wellington.
The participants put their new skills to excellent use, showing how much they had learned through AFL KiwiKick.
AFL New Zealand Wellington Development Manager Sam McKenzie was proud of the performances of the children.
“The kids loved playing AFL KiwiKick at their schools, and they really enjoyed their experience at Westpac Stadium. It is fantastic to see so many Wellington kids getting involved in this new and dynamic sport.”
Children participating in the AFL KiwiKick matches were offered up to 4 free tickets, to ensure that their family could also attend. That so many took up the offer is a testament to the growing interest in AFL in Wellington.
Brooklyn School and Houghton Valley School represented Wellington city and St Theresa’s Catholic School represented the Kapiti Coast. A large group of schools from the Hutt Valley were also involved, including Our Lady of the Rosary, Pinehaven School, Birchville School, Plateau School, Kelson School, Upper Hutt Primary School and St Joseph’s School.
National AFL KiwiKick Development Manager Reg Ranchhod was impressed with the reaction from Wellington schools to the opportunity to play at half time.
“Half-time games were successful last year, but this year was even bigger and better. I’m looking forward to seeing how many participants will be back again next year.”
The participants wore AFL 9s and AFL KiwiKick vests that had been provided through sponsorship from Sommet Sports and Sportime.
The St Kilda Football Club will certainly be returning to Wellington, after an enthusiastic local response in their adopted home. Plans are already underway for next year’s match.
For those who want to continue playing AFL, Play AFL Clubs will be starting in October 2014. The Wellington region will be catered to by the Wellington Play AFL Club, based at Wellington College, and the Hutt Valley Play AFL Club, based at Hutt Park.
Regardless of age or ability, Play AFL Clubs offer the opportunity for all to be involved in AFL. Modules of AFL KiwiKick will be operating for children aged 5-12, with AFL 9s operating for teenagers and open age teams.
For many who attended the ANZAC Day match, the icing on the cake was the opportunity to win a trip for two to the Gold Coast, to see the St Kilda Saints take on the Gold Coast Suns in August.
If you are interested in finding out more about AFL New Zealand’s School programmes in Wellington, please contact Sam McKenzie at email@example.com.