During the 2017 AFL International Cup, the New Zealand side reaped the benefits of the younger players in the squad who have recently graduated from the AFL New Zealand Youth Pathway.
Josh Mackie, Misilifi Faimalo, Carlos Donnell-Brown and Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas have all been involved in the pathway having played in the Secondary Schools AFL Cup, AFL New Zealand Youth Competition, Academy and representing NZ at national level. Having been involved in these programmes, it has fast tracked their development and ensured they receive the correct coaching techniques to ready them for the highest level.
The Youth Competition for boys and girls has been created to compliment the pathway for participants to enjoy and excel in 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 Youth Boys competition will be based in two major centres in Auckland and Wellington with two age groups U14 & U17. The Youth Girls will be based in both Auckland and Wellington featuring an U17 age group.
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 representation, National Combine selection, access to talent scouts and AFL International Scholarships.
New Zealand’s youngest squad member, Josh Mackie is a star in the making. From Otago, Josh played in the forward line for NZ but as he grows as a footballer, he will become a key midfielder. Josh is well respected by the AFLNZ community who see big things to come from the 18 year old. His highlight came in the game against Canada, kicking the first goal of the game
In his short time playing AFL, Carlos has won the National AFL Cup Secondary Schools Competition with Green Bay High School, won the 2016 Auckland AFL League with the Waitakere Magpies in an undefeated season, he is an NPC winner, played for the NZ Academy Level 2, U18’s (Captain) and Senior sides and was a member of the victorious 2017 AFL New Zealand Premiership Southern Saints side. Carlos came of age at the 2017 International Cup as he played a key role in the midfield for the NZ side. The highlight of his tournament was kicking a 50 metre goal in the Grand Final on the MCG.
Misilifi ‘Richard’ Faimalo, from Wellington had an outstanding debut at the 2017 International Cup. Faimalo, is a calm player on the footy field who displayed some of the best skills in the tournament. The 18 year old has a solid future ahead of him and will only get better with age. First introduced to the game through the AFL Cup Secondary Schools competition, Misilifi has been involved with the AFLNZ Academy and a number of national age group sides. Misilifi was a key player for the Northern Suns in the AFL New Zealand Premiership, Misi was the difference in the Suns victory over the Southern Saints in what was the game of 2017.
Since his New Zealand debut in April 2013, Northlander Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas has carved out an impressive pathway through to the Senior New Zealand team, along the way captaining the U16 New Zealand side, and being recognised as the 2014 and 2015 U16 AFL New Zealand Player of the Year. Te Kopa lit up 2017 tournament with his footy flair and was selected in the 2017 AFL International Cup ‘World Team’.
For further information on the Youth competition, go to youth.aflnz.co.nz