AFL rises on North Coast

The Macleay Valley Eagles side that contested the grand final in 2015 against Sawtell Toormina Saints.

The Macleay Valley Eagles side that contested the grand final in 2015 against Sawtell Toormina Saints.

Junior AFL is marking itself as one of the fastest growing sports on the North Coast, recording a 42% increase in the number of teams ahead of the 2017 season.

This exciting growth is highlighted with the Nambucca Valley Lions re-joining the competition after a long break with an Under 11 team, Bellingen Bulldogs adding an Under 15.5 team to their existing two younger teams, Northern Beaches Blues entering Under 13s in addition to their Under 11 team, Port Macquarie Magpies entering a second team in the Under 11 age group and Manning Valley Mustangs marking their second year in the competition by adding an Under 13 team to last season’s inaugural Under 11 team.

This year’s introduction of a four team Youth Girls competition (13 to 17) is also driving the numbers up significantly. This new competition will feature a Coffs Harbour Breakers outfit that had an incredible 22 players attend the first training run of the season.

Paul Taylor, Operations Co-ordinator for AFL North Coast said that junior AFL is in a really exciting growth phase.

“AFL is growing in popularity year on year. Off the back of the recent visit to the region by the Sydney Swans and the introduction of the AFL Women’s competition we’re seeing boys and girls of all ages wanting to join clubs and play the game,” he said.

“Our sport is safe, fun, and inclusive, and promotes physical fitness and teamwork.”

Not only is the growth raising eyes across the North Coast, it’s also marking the region as one of the fastest growing areas for AFL within NSW and the ACT. Paul Taylor said that the volunteer coaches and administrators deserve much of the credit for the code’s recent successes.

“Club volunteers work tirelessly to provide a positive and safe environment for the kids to play the sport they love, to learn the skills and rules, and to have the chance to pursue their dreams. Without these fantastic volunteers the exciting growth we’re experiencing wouldn’t be possible and our ongoing thanks go to them,” Taylor said.

In addition to the teams playing in the Junior competition each club offers an Auskick program for boys and girls aged 5 to 9. Clubs still have room in each team to accommodate new players so anyone interested in joining up should go to www.play.afl or call the AFL Northern NSW office on 6659 6000.

The Macleay Valley Eagles begin their season on Sunday April 2.

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