Female footy in Canterbury gaining momentum

Codes from across Canterbury and beyond have heard the call of Ngā Puna Wai; the city’s new sporting home that is a hub of diversity and ‘having a go.


Every Wednesday evening through winter, Canterbury Australian Rules Football holds training sessions on the inner field of the athletics track.

The turf is world-class and the floodlit effect is magical on a cool autumn evening.

For the Wednesday sessions, a team of coaches offers encouragement and skill sessions, free of charge, to women interested in ‘having a go’ and trying a social sport, under lights, on a world-class turf.

“Winter is often a time when people hibernate or are less active,” says Sport Canterbury Chief Executive Julyan Falloon.  “Motivation is key, and AFL in Canterbury is giving Canterbury women a very appealing, and accessible opportunity.

Adam Clarke is the Canterbury Australian Rules Football women’s coach.

“The environment is laid-back, friendly and supportive. AFL coaches are there to offer tips and advice and introduce interested players to the sport. It’s not a game or competition format, it’s just ‘have a go.’

Clarke says his sport is highly motivated to show locals what is on offer. Over 530,000 women participate in AFL across Australia, and the recent AFL Women’s Grand Final had 60,000 in attendance. Although AFL has been in Canterbury for 30 years, this is the first year it has been on offer to females.

“It’s not as physical as women’s rugby. The sessions are very relaxed. We are just there to help with skills and teach anyone interested in playing a social game where teamwork and fun are the key elements.”

Clarke emphasises that no experience is required, and the experience of Ngā Puna Wai under lights is “simply magic.”

AFL New Zealand will send a women’s team to Melbourne in 2020 for the AFL International Cup.


Story – Sport Canterbury