More opportunities in Counties as KiwiSport project delivers results

AFL New Zealand in partnership with Counties Manukau Sport continues to improve its standing in the South Auckland region. The KiwiSport project, which has been running for the past two years focuses on providing new opportunities for Secondary School students to play organised sport. 


Rosehill College student and AFL New Zealand Academy Level 1 Co-Captain Ronan Morling.

With an increased focus on female participation, the AFL New Zealand pathway for participants within the project commences with the delivery of a selection of Secondary School programmes including taster sessions, opportunities to compete in school at class and house level and finally school representative opportunities. Outside of school time, opportunities continue with the pathway leading to the Regional Youth Competition that runs from October to December each year.

Further opportunities exist for participants to be selected in the AFL New Zealand Academy which focuses on improving the skills and fitness of athletes through use of a training and development programme. The 2018 AFL New Zealand Academy was announced at the beginning of December and includes 8 players from 8 Schools (Howick College, Pakuranga College, Pukekohe College, Alfriston College, Manurewa High School, Onewhero Area School, Rosehill College and Southern Cross Campus) from the Counties Manukau region. This is the highest number of athletes selected from the region since the programmes inception.

From the AFL New Zealand Academy, the next step is the selection process for National Representative teams, with the project producing nine students from the Counties Manukau region who have completed the pathway and now represent their country in the sport of AFL.

In Term 1 of 2017, Howick College competed in a Class Rules competition, with three female students (Archie-Leigh Russell, Ceyan Drollet & Jazmin Stevens-Apaipora) from the College moving on through the pathway representing the New Zealand Kahu Youth Girls in Wellington over the 2017 ANZAC weekend.

The Introduction to AFL programme was delivered to over 3000 students at ten Counties Manukau Schools during the project with Mangere, Pakuranga, Howick, Pukekohe, Rosehill, Tuakau, Onewhero, Dilworth Rural, Southern Cross, Alfriston College and High Schools all participating. Over 1000 students from Pakuranga College completed Introduction to AFL in 2017 following on from Howick College and Rosehill College completing the programme in the lead up to the Junior AFL Cup which took place in Term 4.

Archie Leigh-Russell from Howick College (Left) and Chelsea Young from Pukekohe High School (Middle) both represented the AFL New Zealand Kahu Youth Girls.

A huge success in participation was generated through the Junior AFL Cup Secondary Schools competition. In Term 4 2016, the Franklin region ran and competed in their first cluster tournament with new schools Pukekohe High school and Tuakau College also taking part. The success of the tournament was directly driven by the interest shown by Pukekohe High School to host the event. Pukekohe High School Sport Coordinator, Paul Meads, showcased a willingness to have his students involved in a new sport and increased opportunities for activity. Over the senior and junior AFL Cup, Pukekohe introduced 90 students to inter school competition. Chelsea Young was a shining light representing the AFL New Zealand Kahu Youth Girls and the inaugural National Womens combine in Wellington over the ANZAC period.

The AFL Cup competition is the perfect forum to engage with potential volunteers who add to community capability. Parent Matthew Morling, has two sons (Ronan and Argyle) who have represented Rosehill College in the Secondary School AFL Cup. Matthew has progressed through the volunteer ranks to play a role as the school coach and the current manager of the AFL New Zealand Academy Level 1 team. Along with playing the sport, Ronan added another string to his bow as he coached the Rosehill College Junior AFL Cup team in Term 4 2017.

AFL New Zealand Premiership player and Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate teacher Brad Ingram came on board and was involved in coaching his junior school at the Counties Manukau regional cluster tournament.

The region had more success in the AFL Cup as Southern Cross Campus took out the 2017 North Island Championships and Pukekohe High School taking out the Greater Auckland Girls AFL Cup.

If you would like to find out more about how your school can be involved in the project you can contact Mick Coultard, AFL New Zealand Youth Development Manager on or 09 213 3251.