Contributed by: Jake AnsonYouth participation in Australian football is growing worldwide as clubs realise its potential for attracting future players and families to the sport. In this article, NZAFL's Steve Froggatt talks about his country's recent Auskick restructure, the program currently provided and the recent growth of football in New Zealand
This interview has been republished with permission from the NZAFL website.
nzafl.co.nz: What is Auskick all about?
SF: Auskick is a junior AFL football program for young boys and girls aged between 6-11. It is designed to teach them the basics of Aussie Rules in a non-tackle, fun and safe environment.
nzafl.co.nz: Where is Auskick played?
SF: The NZAFL conducts Auskick sessions in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury at this stage with a view to move into the Waikato next year. In Auckland we have four (4) centres. Three centres are midweek and one super centre on Saturday mornings in St Heliers. The midweek centres are run through the Primary schools at Our Lady Star of the Sea, Dominion Rd and Clendon Park.
In Wellington, our RDO Neil Hargreaves oversees Auskick centres in a number of areas with assistance from a number of AFL enthusiasts in the capital. Ross McWhinnie (Canterbury RDO) operates our Auskick centers at QE11 Stadium “The Village Green” on Sunday’s at 11am prior to the senior matches.
nzafl.co.nz: Why is Auskick in 2004 more successful than last year?
SF: Last year the Auskick centres in Auckland were run through four of the Auckland based AFL Clubs in addition to a Sunday morning clinic. This year we are running the centres through the schools as an after school program. This way the kids don’t have to travel and don’t require parents assistance outside of “school time”. The Saturday centre allows kids from other areas to join in. In Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury, Junior Committees have been formed or revamped with a number of new people joining the committees which is fantastic as it is increasing our volunteer base and sharing the workload.
nzafl.co.nz: How can kids find out more about AFL in New Zealand?
SF: NZAFL has just revamped its website, with current up to date information on it. There is a section for Auskick. In addition, you can ring the NZAFL on (09) 526 5483.
nzafl.co.nz: What do kids get when they register?
SF: We make sure we look after everyone at Auskick. When they register they get a coke backpack, Auskick cap, Auskick CD, AFL mini football, poster book, skills book and player cards. This way every kid has a football to kick about with at home in their free time.
nzafl.co.nz: What happens at the Auskick sessions?
SF: The kids are split into groups based on ages and skill level. Each group runs through a series of skill based exercises incorporating kicking, handballing and marking. The parents are encouraged to get involved with the drills. At the end of the individual group sessions, we play a game with all kids getting a chance to receive and dispose of the ball. This is always great fun.
nzafl.co.nz: Have you get any words of advice to our future champions?
SF: NZ kids today have the opportunity to play AFL from a very young age. I was 21 before I started playing and by that age you are past your used by date. Make the most of every opportunity that is presented to you. When I first started playing I didn’t think I would be employed coaching this great game 6 years later. The younger you start the better player you will be.
Auskick in New Zealand is proudly supported by Genesis Energy.
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