The SportingJournal

AFL Auskick – Where Champions Begin

FOR many primary school kids throughout Australia, Saturday mornings are the most exciting time of the week. Why? Because on Saturday mornings they get to go to Auskick.

And it’s not just exciting because they are learning how to play football. It’s that they get to do so with  their mates in a fun, social way, in a sports development program that appears to be unrivalled by other grass-roots sport development programs in Australia. That’s not to say that the other programs don’t provide kids with a terrific introduction to their respective sports, but Auskick does it better, in a way that no other programs in Australia can match.

Auskick, Making tomorrow champions

I still remember when I first went to Auskick as a kid, it was the best part of my week. Just being there with all your best mates kicking the footy around and learning how to play our great game is something you’ll never forget about and the skills, teamwork and confidence you build stays with you for life. Even the half time break when there’s a mad rush between you and your mates, to get a milo or cordial, is something you don’t forget. The program creates lifetime memories as well as providing pathways into school and junior football competitions and in some cases, careers in the AFL.

Not only is Auskick great for the kids, it also involves the parents, they get to connect with their children in a fun, social way and it provides them with fantastic memories of their own, especially in the father/mother/son, father/mother/daughter games. The grid games played on the the MCG at half-time during the home and away season are also a fantastic experience.

Anyone who has participated in Auskick, parents included, knows how beneficial this program has been in developing their sporting, teamwork and social skills. The overwhelming success and appeal of the Auskick program has made this program an important part of growing up in Australia these days.

Nearly two weeks ago, Shane Crawford was announced as the new ambassador for the Auskick program, taking over from previous ambassador Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico. Crawford is passionate about the Auskick program, with his son Charlie attending his first Auskick season this year – “One of the best things about NAB AFL Auskick is that it not only teaches children the game, it also brings families together. Auskick is where champions begin and I can’t wait to meet the thousands of young champions throughout Australia. We are now targeting 180,000 Auskick participants so I’m going to be busy,” Shane said.

Crawford played 305 games for Hawthorn between 1993 and 2008 and  is the perfect replacement for outgoing ambassador ‘Dipper’ after 10 years of promoting the program. “Dipper has done an outstanding job introducing our game to new participants. In his time the number of Auskickers has grown from 111,689 to 167,080 with an estimated one million girls and boys experiencing the program,” AFL General Manager National and International Development Andew Dillon said. Shane is hoping to increase that number to 180,000 by the end of the season and in my opinion with his fun, easy going personality, there’s no one better for the job!

 Tom Richardson

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