Foundation North impacts growth of AFL in NZ

AFL New Zealand would like to acknowledge and thank Foundation North for their continued support in the development of AFL within New Zealand.


Foundation North have continued to support the growth and development of AFL in New Zealand with a grant of $180,000 over a three year period.

The funding provided by the Trust directly assists the AFL New Zealand employment team and leads to the leadership and structure required to impact on the initiatives highlighted below.

The impact within Auckland and Northland for the 5 to 18 age group is evident through the success of AFL New Zealand programmes in these regions.



Now into its fifth year, the AFL New Zealand Youth competition has continued to grow nationwide and is now an integral part of the annual calendar.

AFL New Zealand has created its Youth Competition for new players to participate in the sport of AFL.

It has a focus on improving athletes’ skills and fitness within a fun environment. This is achieved through a training, game and development programme that highlights the necessary requirements throughout the pathway.

The Male and Female age grades have been aligned and will include an Under 12’s, Under 14 and U17 grade to accompany the growth of the competition.

Each age group includes a combination of skill development – kicking, catching, passing and bouncing – game play and personal development that takes place throughout New Zealand. This combination will lead to a number of opportunities for participants including AFL New Zealand Academy selection, New Zealand representationNational Combine selection, access to talent scouts and AFL International Scholarships.

There are several National Academy and age group teams, Academy Level 1, Academy Level 2, New Zealand Kahu Youth Girls and New Zealand U18. These teams are selected from the respective Academy levels and either tour in Australia or play a touring Australian based team in April each year.

The AFLNZ Youth competition continues to grow each year.



In 2019, AFL New Zealand partnered with a number of Regional Sporting Organisations with the focus of providing opportunities to young people in the community.

The Northland Sports Coalition (NSC) was established to create a forum of members (representing their sport regionally) which existed to collectively support, promote and advocate for the ongoing development of sport in Northland.

The NSC strategy is to work towards sports speaking and acting collectively and thereby strengthening engagement with councils, ensuring region-wide awareness of the challenges, issues and opportunities affecting the provision of sport in Northland and in turn to develop and recommend collective solutions-based initiatives to enhance regional participation in sport.

The group wanted to identify areas of common interest and advocate for regional co-operation on active recreation and sport issues and to collaborate as much as possible.

The collaboration between sports codes has provided opportunities for young people to experience other sports beyond their own sport of cricket.

The project has involved AFL New Zealand, Northland Cricket, Touch NZ, and Hockey Northland, with skills from all four sports being delivered in joint sessions at rural Whangārei schools and in schools in Kaitaia and Rodney.

Northland Cricket development manager Paul Hope said he was grateful to Touch NZ, AFL NZ and Hockey Northland who have taken up the opportunity to be part of the collaborative group.

Dawn Reid, a new entrant teacher from Pamapuria School in Kaitaia was glowing about the programme.

“Our tamariki were excited to be given the opportunity to try different sports that are not commonly played in our community,” she said.



History was made at North Harbour Stadium on March 31st this year as the first ever AFL New Zealand Women’s Premiership took place as the Lions produced big first quarter to set up their win over the Magpies.

The match was contested from players around the country who were drafted into two teams, Lions and Magpies which were revealed at last nights welcome function at AUT Millennium on Auckland North Shore.

The female competition provides the perfect environment for girls transitioning from the Youth Competition formats to senior football and is the next step in finalising the pathway for women to participate in AFL within New Zealand.

Players were selected from:

  • Current Kahu Youth Girls
  • New Zealand representatives
  • AFL New Zealand Academy
  • Secondary Schools AFL Cup
  • Female Footy Frenzy events

The Female Footy Frenzy events were a starting point for those new to the game and have a strong influence on social experiences.

AFL New Zealand will work towards an events calendar for 2019/2020 will assist with preparation as the New Zealand Kahu look to make their debut at the 2020 International Cup.

The Women’s Premiership was a historic moment for AFL New Zealand.



Ahku King.

18-year-old Akuhata King is one of a handful of Māori players in the AFL New Zealand Premiership that take place at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

Four teams compete in the Premiership Season with a 9 round schedule culminating in late April each year.

The AFL New Zealand Premiership targets the inclusion of 120 talented athletes throughout New Zealand with a player base roster retained by each of the four clubs from the previous season. The remaining and new players allocated selection in the four teams by way of the “AFL New Zealand National Draft”.

The former Manurewa High School student grew up playing rugby league and says he never set foot on an Australian Football League field until a couple of years ago. He’s now into his second year of playing the sport and has found himself playing for the Northern Suns in the AFL NZ Premiership. He says his “Pops and Nan” raised him to believe AFL wasn’t the sport for him but is determined to go as far as he can in the sport in their honour.

“Here I am Pops and Nan, I’m here to do it for you fullahs,” he says.

King has aspirations to one day play in the professional ranks in Australia and has been taking tips off of his younger brother. “[He’s] been helping me out, giving me touches on the sport, so yeah big ups to him,” Akuhata says.

The sport, which is played on an oval-shaped field, often the size of cricket fields, requires a lot of running as well as physical strength, “coming from a boy from up north, yeah you just look at it as just another sport, just another day of running,” King says.

However, he also says his background in rugby league has helped him transition into AFL.

“Footwork, agility, passing, talking. Just coordinating with everyone, yeah it’s really helpful.”

King, who hails from Karetu in the Bay of Islands, believes many more Māori can find enjoyment in the sport, that is commonly seen with negative stereotypes.

“Just get out there have a jam,” he says. “Feel the vibe, and just stay positive towards everything.”

Advice he says can be applied to all walks of life, “You’re just wasting your time being angry, and you know having a lot of negative thoughts on AFL, or Aussies on it’s own.”

King was named in the final squad of the New Zealand U18 side who travelled to Melbourne in May this year.


Primary Schools

Through the support of Foundation North, AFL New Zealand delivered AFL KiwiKick to 28,664 Primary School children within the Auckland and Northland regions in the past 3 years.

The programme teaches children not only the fundamental movement skills of Kick, Catch, Pass and Bounce but also stability and locomotive movement skills, with an aim to encourage all participants involved to be Active For Life by following Sport New Zealand’s “Physical Literacy” approach.

Physical literacy is “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding required by participants that allows them to value and take responsibility for engaging in physical activity and sport for life”.  In conjunction with Sport New Zealand, AFL New Zealand will look to support and promote this concept of physical literacy by actively seeking out ways to align and deliver this philosophy.

AFL KiwiKick continues to teach the fundamental motor skills to Primary Schools in Auckland and Northland.

These skills are valuable for a wide variety of sports, and the AFL KiwiKick programme ensures that everyone who participates is confident and competent with those skills. Qualified AFL KiwiKick coaches deliver focused and fun sessions during school hours and afterschool, with every child receiving between 1 – 8 sessions of coaching.

AFL New Zealand will continue with these programmes, as they deliver on key outcomes that encourage children to live healthy lifestyles through sport.

To follow on from the six sessions during school time, the children then have access to an after school programme that takes place within the school grounds directly after school.

With the assistance of Foundation North, AFL KiwiKick has continued to increase exposure of AFL to the New Zealand public. Many participants aged between 5 and 12 that have completed the AFL KiwiKick programmes over the past 8 years have gone on to play in the AFLNZ Youth Competition for both Boys and Girls aged 12 to 17.

The AFL KiwiKick programme teaches fundamental movement skills to Primary School children.


Secondary Schools

The AFL Cup is an Inter School competition for Junior (Years 9-10) and Senior (Years 11-13) students based on fundamental movement and ball skills of AFL for boys and girls.

The programme provides introductory sessions and resources presented by qualified AFL New Zealand Staff to introduce a new and dynamic sport to students. The skills of ‘Kick, Catch, Pass and Bounce’ are perfectly matched to cross reference any number of sports. The 9 a side format is suitable for rugby size fields and with three reserves per team, team numbers are easy to coordinate.

Schools around Auckland and Northland have participated in the tournament over the years and in 2019, Rosehill College claimed the Men’s title while Pukekohe High School went back to back as they won the Women’s Title.

The Coach the Coaches programme has had a significant impact in Secondary schools and local feeder schools and the wider community.

In Term 3 2019, 25 students from Orewa College took part in the ‘Coach the Coaches‘ programme as part of their NCEA achievement standards.

The ‘Coach the Coaches’ programme takes a look at the fundamentals of AFL and the AFL Kiwikick programme. After 6 – 8 practical structured sessions your students will assist delivery of the AFL Kiwikick programme in local Primary or Intermediate schools in your area.

Coach the Coaches can and has been used for students being assessed for NCEA achievement standards or NZQA Unit Standards.

To gain the achievement standards, the students travelled to local primary schools (Red Beach Primary, Orewa Primary, Dairy Flat Primary) and were assessed on how they delivered the AFL KiwiKick Programme to Primary school students. This culminated in cluster tournament at Orewa College including the three Primary Schools. The tournament was managed and operated by Orewa College senior students and created positive engagement and links between the College and its feeder Schools.

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 is ideally placed to deliver on the outcomes specified by Foundation North.