2021 saw the introduction of the first ever AFL New Zealand Women’s team featuring an all star line up. The Team boasted an exciting mix of established AFL stars such as Jasmine Garner from the North Melbourne Football Club, Brisbane Lions star Jesse Wardlaw, youthful talent as well as home grown New Zealand representatives.
This year has seen two women’s seasons take place and more New Zealand Talent playing in the AFLW has been discovered. Jesse Wardlaw and Jasmine Garner continued to show their class on the field, with Jesse going on to win golden boot for AFLW season 7 and Jasmine Garner being named in 6 out of 10 Team of the week sides. This year sees 5 new additions to the team including rising star Abbey Dowrick after being a standout playing her first season of AFLW for Port Adelaide
To meet the criteria to be selected in the AFLNZ heritage team, each player must either have been born in New Zealand or have New Zealand parentage.
The 2022 team consists of 20 players currently playing regularly in the AFLW competition for their respective clubs.
Youth development programmes implemented by AFL New Zealand continue to work towards a lifetime of involvement with the sport. Equal importance is placed on both the starting point of teaching school children the fundamentals by way of the AFL KiwiKick programme, involvement in Regional Leagues throughout New Zealand all the way through to high performance training for athletes seeking higher honours with AFL.
The introduction of the AFLNZ Youth Competition in 2015 was a major success in placing High School aged students on the pathway to AFL.
This is great news for the future of the sport in both countries. New Zealanders moving to Australia will have an understanding and enjoyment of the game, and Australian clubs will have a bigger pool of talented players to select from. The New Zealand Heritage Team is a reflection of the strong links that already exist between the two countries. A passion for AFL is one of those links that is growing stronger every year.