AFL has taken off in Wellington as a participation and spectator sport thanks to the efforts of AFL New Zealand and the support of the Wellington Community Trust. The introduction of the new and dynamic sport of AFL has delivered many varied benefits to the people of Wellington.
AFL New Zealand gratefully acknowledges the donation of the Wellington Community Trust. This donation has been used to dramatically increase the numbers of participants in AFL, as well as helping to facilitate bold and innovative new ventures for the city. The future is bright for the continuation of the work undertaken by AFL New Zealand.
Participation numbers are a major area where measurable progress has occurred. More than 3,500 students participated in AFL New Zealand programmes across the region. This includes teams from five high schools that participated in the Hawks Cup, an interschool competition that constitutes an important step in the AFL New Zealand High Performance pathway.
A major benefit for young people involved in AFL New Zealand programmes is that AFL teaches fundamental movement skills, valuable for a wide variety of sports. Qualified coaches who ensure that all participants are confident and competent teach these transferable skills. Through these programmes AFL New Zealand helps ensure that young people can go on to be lifelong participants in sport.
Whilst AFL New Zealand was awarded a donation based on the Wellington Community Trust’s goal of “encouraging high levels of participation in sport,” significant progress was made on another goal, to make Wellington the “cultural heartland of New Zealand.”
Wellington was selected as the ideal host city for the first ever AFL competition match played outside Australia. The ANZAC Day match between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans was a stunning success, injecting capital into the economy of the city and cementing the reputation of Wellington as New Zealand’s preeminent destination for major events.
The attendance of young people was a particularly promising outcome of the ANZAC Day match. 21 primary schools and 5 secondary schools participated in AFL New Zealand programmes leading up to the match. More than 3000 representatives from these schools attended, viewing the skills they had been learning put into practice by professionals.
The St Kilda Saints have indicated that they wish to continue their partnership with Wellington, which provides an exciting opportunity to further grow the sport in the capital. With a 2nd ANZAC Day fixture planned for Wellington next year, young AFL participants will have role models to emulate. St Kilda players were very generous with their time during their last visit to Wellington, attending community events to meet local fans and sign autographs.
The donation from Wellington Community Trust also provided funding which has assisted in the creation of a suitable employment structure for the code within Wellington with the capability of delivering a range of AFL New Zealand programmes. Sam McKenzie is the latest addition to the AFL New Zealand team catering for his national role as Play AFL Club Manager as well as area management. A new team of casual staff has also commenced work servicing the growing number of schools involved with the development programmes. For many people in this team, these jobs provide them with a vital first step to a career working in sport.
Engaging volunteers has also been part of the growth strategy of AFL New Zealand in Wellington, particularly through teacher accreditation as AFL KiwiKick coaches. This allows young people to continue playing AFL to follow on from their initial introduction through their school.
Teachers enthusiastically attended professional development, learning how to deliver AFL KiwiKick sessions and control games of AFL. This will ensure that children can continue to be active sporting participants utilising the teachers newly developed skills following the departure of AFL New Zealand coaches associated with the AFL KiwiKick programme.
An encouraging number of teachers have taken up the opportunity. Across the region more than 25 teachers have completed the accreditation process. The training is useful not just for teaching AFL, but for teaching all sports offered at the school.
For those who want to continue to be involved in AFL, Play AFL Clubs will open in October at Wellington College and Hutt Park. Competitions will be available for children, teenagers, adults, female, male and mixed teams. Regardless of age or ability, there are opportunities for you to play AFL at your Play AFL Community Club.
For more information about AFL KiwiKick or AFL New Zealand, please visit the website.https://aflnz.co.nz.