The pathway for children in the AFL can be confusing. Community club football has been joined by a variety of school programs.
We are also a growing club, with new and different avenues opening up every year. In 2020, the Lane Cove Cats will continue to expand the number of programs we operate.
Our award winning Auskick program will return bigger and better. In addition to our regularly sessions, we will be looking to develop a girls-only stream to accommodate those children that may be reluctant to mix it up with the boys.
Due to the strong numbers in U8 Auskick, we should see a strong number of teams in the younger junior divisions. However our U11 and U12 age groups are also expected to be strong as well.
In the youth division, we will see further expansion in our joint venture with North Ryde. This will result in JV teams in U13 through to U15.
So in the name of simplicity, we’ve tried to summarise it all for our members.
Auskick is the premier AFL program for children new to the sport. It makes learning to play AFL fun, safe and easy for boys and girls. Through weekly coaching sessions they will learn the skills of the game in an exciting, social and safe environment.
Children will learn the fundamental motor skills vital for future physical activity and sport participation as well as learning how to interact with other children as part of a team in small group activities.
Within the Auskick program, we have two main streams.
Auskick 5-8 years
This involves Sunday morning sessions for approximately one hour. It consists of drills that teach the fundamentals of the game in a safe and fun environment. It also involves some internal grid games, using modified rules and no tackling.
Auskick U8’s Non Competitive Games
Around week four of the season, the children aged 8 are invited to participate in the Auskick U8 competition. This is a step up from the internal grid games, with boys and girls playing against other Auskick programs around Sydney.
Its always played on Sunday morning, and has no competition tables or divisionalised or graded team. Its played on a reduced field size separated into zones to avoid congestion and spread opportunity. The rules are modified including no tackling.
School and Community Programs
There are a host of programs tailored to primary school students across the nation. These aim to introduce the game to new children.
- Learn AFL Auskick – a development program targeted at students with limited to no knowledge of AFL. The curriculum linked program to specific educational outcomes achieved through practicing the core skills of the game and learning about the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants.
- Experience AFL Auskick – a development program targeted at students with some understanding of AFL. The curriculum linked program expands on this knowledge via specific skill sessions and modified match play whilst learning about the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants.
- Sporting Schools Program – the AFL Sporting Schools Program has been developed to facilitate the delivery of AFL in schools. The program provides schools the opportunity to access Australian Sports Commission funding to assist with the delivery of the program.
- After School Auskick Centre – after school clinics based on participant abilities, run on school grounds, after school by qualified AFL staff.
- Multicultural/ Indigenous Programs
This involves children aged 9 and above, although in certain circumstances we can have children aged 7 or 8 play in this competition.
Junior Football is the next step for kids who are ready to move on from NAB AFL Auskick or other introductory school and/or community programs. It’s the perfect environment for kids to have fun learning through play, make new friends and create memories that last a lifetime. Rules of matches are modified so children can continue to develop their skills in an enjoyable, safe atmosphere.
At Lane Cove Cats, we have two main programs; mixed juniors and girls. The mixed juniors involves boy ands girls playing in age groups from under 9 up to under 12.
The youth girls program is relatively new. In fact, this year is the first year for the under 10 age group, while the under 12 age groups is in its second year.
These competitions are female specific competitions aimed at introducing new players to AFL and continuing the pathway for females aged 13 to 18 years.
Many girls prefer to play Australian Football in single gender environments, and where possible we recommend girls over age 10 do so. However, should your daughter prefer to play in mixed-gender team or competition they are permitted to do so until age 14.
Tailor made for players of all abilities and aspirations, Youth Football caters to teenage boys and girls aged from 13 to 18. An ideal progression from either NAB AFL Auskick or Junior Football, Youth Football provides children with the opportunity to play in a graded competition within a club environment.
Fun, fast and often skilful, Youth Football is a chance for children to play football with their friends and establish new friendships, with a distinct focus on team building.
At Lane Cove Cats, our youth football program is provided through a joint venture with our neighbouring club, the North Ryde Dockers.
In most sports across Australia, you get a natural decline in participation as children enter high school. This is when study, social activities and part-time work pressures are increasing. Participation drop-out then accelerates through the teenage years. In Sydney we are also facing diminishing available green space and an explosion in Auskick and junior clubs on the North Shore.
Under this strategy, we will have a much better chance of providing a club environment that caters to all age groups and skill sets the school years.
This structure is a common set up across the North Shore and the wider Sydney basin. Willoughby Wildcats have a joint venture with Mosman Swans from the U13 age groups and higher. Drummoyne Power and Concord Giants have also formed the Canada Bays Cannons for U13-U17 age groups.
Below is a diagram outlining the structure of the club and the pathway for children from Auskick to senior football. We hope this provides some clarity for parents.