A new generation of footballers are starting early and preparing to move up the ranks.
For the past six weeks, students at Hobsonville Point Primary School have been getting clued up about the sport commonly known as Aussie Rules.
AFL Kiwikick is a programme designed for children aged between 5 and 12 that teaches fundamental ball-handling and movement skills.
AFL New Zealand chief executive Robert Vanstam says the programme has reached about 100,000 students in four years.
“Our mandate is growing the game and building it up from the community. It is a new sport here but at the same time the skills we teach are transferable to other sports.
“People like Warriors captain Shaun Johnson and New Zealand sevens player Sam Dickson are all AFL alumni so if we can help kids into other professional sports that’s good as well.”
Students have been learning the rules of the game in weekly sessions and also get to take home AFL gear after the programme finishes.
Principal Daniel Birch says Kiwikick has been inclusive for all students.
“There is a focus on skill building, teamwork, collaboration and it is a new experience for many of the kids.”
Te Auraki Kapa-Kaaka, 12, had never heard of AFL or seen a game before it came to his school.
The young rugby player says the sport is “quite different” but he’s found it easy to pick up.
“I’d never heard of it before and the passes aren’t like your normal rugby passes.
“But the new skills I’m learning are making my rugby game better.”
Hobsonville Land Company development partner AVJennings enabled AFL Kiwikick to come to the school by providing thousands of dollars in sponsorship.
Story – Stuff