Social Sport the key for Harbour Secondary Schools

The development of social sport and having fun playing AFL, have been the key driver behind AFL New Zealand’s Secondary School participation within the Harbour region. Thanks to a collaboration with Harbour Sport through KiwiSport the Secondary School project continues to focus on increasing activity in sport.


With a focus on increasing school-aged children participating in organised sport, 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.

Over the course of the KiwiSport project, 1150 students from Northcote College, Kingsway School, Albany Junior High School, Whangaparaoa College and Birkenhead College, have received their first taste of AFL with students participating in theIntroduction to AFL Programme.

Introduction to AFL teaches AFL skills and uses modified games to reach the end product of playing a full game of AFL. The programme can be combined with junior class units of work, linked to curriculum programmes and lead into competition programmes.


  1. Provides an affinity to the sport
  2. Develop skills that can be transferred across codes
  3. Leads into a Player Pathway for the students, promoting and increasing physical activity
  4. Links to curriculum – Ball Sports, International Sports, Evasion games, Invasion games

Outside of school time, opportunities continue with the pathway leading to the Regional Youth Competition that runs from October to December each year. In 2017, the Auckland Youth competition, which is based at QBE Stadium in Albany, included 34 participants involved from 12 Secondary Schools (Albany Junior High School, Birkenhead College, Kingsway School, Kristin School, Long Bay College, Northcote College, Orewa College, Rosmini College, Takapuna Grammar School, Westlake Boys High School, Westlake Girls High School, Whangaparoa College) including Buell Verkade from Whangaparaoa College (pictured above).

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. At the beginning of December, the 2018 AFL New Zealand Academy was announced as 8 Females (Caitlin Hannah, Samantha Shrimpton, Abigail Cotton, Emma Collins, Maia Sciarone, Jaimee Wyatt, Kylie McGahan and Buell Verkade) and 15 Males (AC Reinecke, Jacob Lee, Joel Hetherington, Samuel Warton, Spencer Jones, Samuel Thomas, Henry Grant, James Scott, Xavier Bryham, Liam Mayes, Oliver Parsons, Jack Heijn, Josh Heijn, Bom Verkade and Jack Abraham) from the North Harbour Region were selected.

One of the main outcomes of the project was to develop more social sport opportunities for new participants to become involved with AFL. Carmel College and Rosmini College took up the opportunity to try something new as they completed the AFL New Zealand Youth Force Back programme.

This programme focuses on the two main fundamental skills of AFL, Kick and Catch. Through a modified game participants gain an insight into the skills required for the bigger game of AFL, that can also be used as a Have a go or participation/social competition.

With the introduction of AFL Force Back through both social and competitive environments, links are formed through to Secondary School AFL Cup Interschool competition and opportunities outside of school time with the AFL New Zealand Youth Competition.

Orewa College students delivering the AFL KiwiKick programme to Orewa Primary students

In Term 3 2017, 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.

“It’s exciting for the kids to learn new skills. The Orewa College students have been the number one draw card as their management skills have been so relatable with the kids” Julie Gibson, Red Beach School.

“It has been an awesome experience and the kids have been really fun. AFL New Zealand and the teachers have made it easy to deliver the programme and it’s been an enjoyable process” Daniel Blake, Year 13 student at Orewa College.

In 2018, AFL New Zealand will complete the project through a continuation of delivery to a Secondary Schools throughout the region.

The relationship between the Schools in the Harbour region and AFL New Zealand is paramount to an ongoing connection with the sport and a lifetime of enjoyment for those who connect. The success of the KiwiSport project success to date has seen a further 12 month extension to the project.

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.