Northland AFL High performance athletes shine on the big stage

eba2aa04-30f4-4d7f-96e0-075f572734d0The Northland Play AFL Pathway Project is a Kiwisport funded project run by AFL New Zealand in partnership with Sport Northland. This project involved the delivery of high quality programmes to primary and secondary school students across the region.

The AFL KiwiKick programme, which teaches fundamental movement skills, was delivered to 1205 students aged 5-12, with schools involved stretching from Pakotai School in the West to One Tree Point in the East.

Teachers were impressed with both the content and delivery of the AFL KiwiKick programme.

“The skills they are teaching are most beneficial to other ball codes too. It is a great opportunity for staff to get professional development as they are introducing quite a number of new ideas.” Graham Elsmore, Associate Principal at Christian Renewal School

AFL Secondary School programmes were delivered to more than 700 students, stretching from the Bay of Islands College to Dargaville High School.

Programmes covered a diverse range of needs for different schools. An example of this is the AFL Coach the Coaches programme.

The AFL Coach the Coaches programme provided Whangarei Boy’s High School students with valuable work experience, and a foot in the door into a career in sport. Students have the opportunity to become accredited AFL KiwiKick coaches, and once qualified can deliver AFL KiwiKick sessions in a local Primary Schools in conjunction with experienced AFL New Zealand staff.

The positive outcomes of AFL Coach the Coaches are many and varied. Participants in the programme typically report that their communication skills and confidence dramatically improves as a result of what they learn. The Primary School children also experience the advantages of the AFL Coach the Coaches, as they experience high quality focused coaching, with an excellent ratio of coaches to students.

An important element of the Play AFL Project was the accreditation of teachers and volunteers as AFL KiwiKick coaches. Across Northland 142 Coaches in total have been accredited. Having delivered the AFL KiwiKick programme to Kamo Intermediate, every teacher at the school is now accredited. This enhances the sustainability of AFL as a sport.

Another successful programme was the Hawks Cup, which saw male and female athletes participate in inter-school competition. Bay of Islands College proved to be very strong and took out both the Male and Female Senior Hawks Cup competitions in February. In November, the junior Hawks Cup was won by Keri Keri High School who were playing in their first ever AFLNZ competition.

The Regional Combine Programme, which involved talented athletes testing and measuring their skills was successfully implemented. The Regional Combine Programme in Northland was a crucial facet in the development of the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme in the region.

Northland was one of three regions nationwide to host the AFL New Zealand Academy from January to April 2015. Kensington Oval was the host venue for the Northland Academy, where over 20 16-18 year old students played on a weekly basis. The AFLNZ Academy was created to provide a pathway for athletes to excel in AFL. In a lead up to the Academy, ASB Stadium was used to hold Parent information evenings for interested parties.

Te Kopa Tipene Thomas USA NZ Hawks Jun
Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas representing the New Zelaand Hawks

Other Northlanders have excelled as part of the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme. Both Jordan Skinner and Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, of Whangarei Boys High School and Bay of Islands College respectively, have represented the Under 16 New Zealand Hawks. Tipene-Thomas was named AFL New Zealand Under 16 Player of the Year for the second time in a row in April 2015.

The presence of Northlanders within the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme was showcased when the Under 18 New Zealand Kahu, the premier female National AFL team, played an International match against the Australian Youth Girls. Many of the New Zealand team were Northlanders, including the 2015 AFL New Zealand Female Player of the Year Dayna Harris.

The New Zealand Kahu played one match against Australia last year, a significant milestone in the development of Womens International AFL.

The High Performance Programme is an area that AFL New Zealand will continue to target in Northland. The region is rich with sporting talent, and AFL New Zealand offers a pathway to National Representation and the opportunity to excel through AFL.

National Representatives:

U18 NZ Kahu:

Bay of Islands College:

Amber Clarke, Aaliyah Clarke

Whangarei Girls High School:

Tegan Cooper, Jessie Parr, Setareh Brown

Keri Keri High School:

O’Shea MacMillan, Ruby Murray, Killarney Morey

Dargaville High School:

Charley Green

U16 NZ Hawks:

Whangarei Boys High School:

Harrison Johnson, Jordan Skinner, Lachlan Kennedy, Liam Caldwell, Michael Iwashita, Blake Williamson

Keri Keri High School:

Joseph Wadman, Josh Woodham

Bay of Islands College:

Max Stuart, Ben Armstrong

U18 NZ Hawks Wider Squad:

Dargaville High School:

Israel Irving

Bay of Islands College:

Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, Southen – Tia Smith

Through the Pathway Project and the newly launched Youth Competition we hope this list of representative honours grows in the Northland region.

Further opportunities for development exist in 2015, with the AFLNZ Youth Competition scheduled to begin in October. This exciting new Youth competition was created to compliment the pathway for participants to excel in AFL. Within the AFL New Zealand Youth competition there is a focus on improving athletes’ skills and fitness along with a training, game and development programme that highlights the necessary requirements throughout the pathway.

If you would like to know more about how you can get your School involved in the AFL New Zealand Secondary School programmes having AFL delivered at your school and provide your students with the opportunity to play AFL please contact Mick Coultard National Secondary Schools Manager on or 09 213 3251 for further information.