Contributed by: Rod Shaw
Northland, the picturesque region particularly known for the Bay of Islands, above the Auckland area in NZ is slowly opening up to the charms of AFL.
Now with a Regional Co-ordinator, Paul Hope, in the area there is hope for the game to get a foothold. Paul says hundreds of Northlanders have learned the game over the past two years through school programmes, after school programmes and secondary school introductions, with the sport offering part-time employment for up to 10 Northlanders. The fact that many people don't know the rules is part of the appeal, he says. "It doesn't matter, it's just all about having fun," he says. "It complements other winter sports and builds on their fitness and ball skills."
One player from the region has already progressed into the NZ U 20’s is 18-year-old Keeley Johnson. The Kamo High School player was introduced to the sport by Paul less than a year ago and has now been selected for the New Zealand under-20s team. "I just knew that it was an Australian sport and that it was huge over there. "I didn't really know the rules but it's definitely a great game to go out and play."
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