The 3rd Annual AFL New Zealand Community Awards were held in conjunction with the AFL Grand Final, and were a celebration of the many partnerships that have enabled the sport of AFL to grow and flourish in New Zealand.
With representatives from schools, Regional Sporting Trusts, local AFL clubs, AFL New Zealand staff and other organisations that have made an impact in the goal of making AFL a New Zealand game, the Community Awards brought a diverse range of people together.
The awards given were in many cases representative of large groups of people and organisations, and showed the many aspects of the work that AFL New Zealand is undertaking in partnership with other groups.
Awards were presented to the following recipients:
Toni-Maree Carnie – CEO of Harbour Sport. Toni Maree-Carnie was presented with an award on behalf of Harbour Sport in particular, but also on behalf of the wider network of Regional Sporting Trusts that AFL New Zealand works with.
Michael Gregson – AFL KiwiKick Co-ordinator. Michael Gregson was presented with an award on behalf of the many excellent staff members of AFL New Zealand, though he was singled out for his willingness to learn new skills, provide leadership to other coaches, and volunteer his time taking on coaching responsibilities with High Performance teams.
Sarah Smith – Green Bay High School Gateway Coordinator. Green Bay High School have welcomed AFL into their school, through both AFL Secondary School Curriculum and Competition Programmes. Green Bay High School have had multiple senior students work with AFL New Zealand through the Gateway Programme, which provides students the opportunity to gain work experience alongside AFL KiwiKick Coordinators. Khairullah Azizi, a student from Green Bay High School, has been offered paid employment with AFL New Zealand since completing the Gateway programme.
Chris Mundell – Auckland AFL stalwart and AFL New Zealand High Performance Coach. Chris Mundell has played for the University Club in the Auckland AFL for many years, in the process he has gone on to represent Auckland and New Zealand. He has also stepped up as a coach, with the University Club, Auckland, and the U18 New Zealand Hawks, along with providing personal coaching for St Kilda Football Club International Scholarship holder Giovanni Mountain Silbery from Aorere College in South Auckland.
Lisa Roper – Coach of the U18 New Zealand Kahus. Lisa Roper is an AFL coach of considerable experience from her years in Sydney, and has volunteered her time to coach the U18 New Zealand Kahus in their upcoming series against the Australia Youth Girls. A proud Kiwi, Lisa Roper is one of the many women who are at the forefront of the development of female football.
Geoff Dickson – AFL New Zealand Board Chairman. First appointed in 2006, and elected to the position of Chairman in 2008, Geoff Dickson has been a tireless advocate and supporter of AFL in New Zealand, and has provided wise guidance and support in the goal of making AFL a New Zealand game.
Andrew Reeves – CEO of Sommet Sports. Since their debut in 2013, Sommet Sports have been supporters of AFL in New Zealand, broadcasting more than 50 hours of AFL content across 2014 including 5 live games, and all of it free to air via the Freeview Network. Through the efforts of Sommet Sports, a generation of New Zealanders, particularly children, have been exposed to AFL on TV, which has in turn resulted in increasing popularity for the code and strong ratings for AFL games.
All of the guests at the AFL New Zealand Community Awards were treated to the hospitality of the AUT Millenium Institute of Sport’s Finish Line Function Room.
Following the awards, the AFL Grand Final was played to guests who chose to stay and watch, with a mixed crowd of Hawthorn supporters, Sydney Swans supporters and neutral but interested onlookers.