Participation at the lower levels of junior football continue to remain strong in the region with record participation numbers in both Auskick and local Under 9’s competitions.
Auskick numbers have been maintained and increased from 1775 in 2016 to 1842 in 2019 whilst also operating an Under 9’s competition in the region that has grown from five teams in 2016 to 27 teams across three clusters in Melton, Woodend and Sunbury.
Another positive factor has been the growth in female participation in Auskick which accounts for almost 20% of participants largely as a result of the continued popularity of AFLW and local Junior and Senior female competitions having a great effect at grassroots level.
New centres established in growth areas such as Aintree and Atherstone where new estates have been built will only continue to grow and as junior clubs become established in the area it will provide a great pathway for children to continue their football enjoyment through transition into a local junior club.
AFL Goldfields Football Development Manager Grant McMillan spoke about the satisfaction this increased participation is bringing to football in the Goldfields region.
“The continued growth of participation at the younger age levels of Auskick and junior football is really pleasing, especially after Auskick has rolled out a full curriculum refresh over the last two year,” McMillan said.
“When you consider that five years ago the Melton area had one of the lowest levels of football participation per capita in the state, to see record levels of participation at Auskick across our region and a thriving Under 9’s competition with three clusters it builds a solid foundation for future numbers at club level.”
The demand from junior clubs to get involved in the Under 9’s competition has established a readymade pathway for Auskickers to get involved in organised junior football and provides a great steppingstone to continue into the older age groups.
On average annually 15% of Auskickers from our region transition into a Junior club be it in the RDFNL or other neighbouring leagues, so on current numbers that accounts for in excess of 250 Auskickers.
“The Centre Coordinators and volunteers do a fantastic job and the size of some of our centres are the same as running a junior football club,” McMillan said.