U-18 Kahus Preparing to Break New Ground

AFL New Zealand is proud to announce a new pathway in High Performance sport for women. The New Zealand Kahus will be the first ever Women’s team to represent New Zealand at AFL.

The pathway to the New Zealand Kahus begins at age group level. The first opportunity is for an Under 18 team, made up of the top junior female footballers in the country.

Promising female athletes from a variety of sporting codes were invited to trial for this team. Many only have a little experience playing AFL, but their talent showed through as they quickly learned the skills and tactics needed to excel at their new and dynamic sport.

The first assignment for the fledgling team will be a tough one. In October, the Australian Under-16 Girls, known as the Breeze, will tour New Zealand. They will play three matches against the Kahus, as well as being involved in coaching and development while on tour.

At present, the final NZ Kahus squad for the series is yet to be selected. Competition for places is high, with players attending training days and camps, combine testing and coaching seminars. The final squad to face the Breeze will be selected on the 22nd of September.

The experience will be invaluable for the Kahus, as they will get an insight into the skill levels and athletic ability required for top level female AFL. Kahus coach Mick Coultard is predicting his team will improve rapidly in the process.

“All of our girls came to AFL as athletes, and they picked it up really quickly. What they really need now is game time to put their skills into practice.”

The pathway for the Under 18 Kahus does not stop at the end of the tour. AFL New Zealand is targeting the 2014 International Cup as a chance to enter the first ever Women’s Open Grade team from New Zealand. It is hoped that the core of this team will be made up of the current Kahus, and supplemented by elite athletes with experience in AFL. NZ Kahus logo

AFL New Zealand already has a strong history of developing high performance athletes. Currently athletes developed from within the AFL New Zealand High Performance Programme are involved with potential professional careers within AFL. International scholarship holders, including Shem Tatupu, Joe Baker Thomas and Kurt Heatherley are all making their mark in the sport.

The growth of female participation in AFL is a long term goal for AFL New Zealand. Through the AFL KiwiKick programme, thousands of girls aged 5-12 have been introduced to the sport. Female teams compete in the House Rules intra school and Hawks Cup interschool competitions at secondary school level. Women’s competitions in AFL 9s are currently available at Play AFL Clubs around the country.

Through these combined programmes, AFL can enhance the sporting options available for female athletes in New Zealand. AFL teaches fundamental movement skills valuable for a wide variety of sports, and through playing AFL athletes can supplement their skills in other codes.

To get involved as a player or volunteer with the New Zealand Kahus, contact coach Mick Coultard.

Itinerary for Australia U-16 Girls Tour of New Zealand

4/10, 5.00 pm: Welcome function

5/10, 12.00pm: Game 1 – NZ Kahus vs Australia Breeze, Parrs Park, Oratia, Auckland

7/10, 1.00pm:   Game 2 – NZ Kahus vs Australia Breeze, Parrs Park, Oratia, Auckland

9/10, 1.00pm:   Game 3 – NZ Kahus vs Australia Breeze, Kensington Athletic Park, Whangarei