The growth of women’s football in remote Northern Territory communities has directly contributed to participation numbers in Australian Football recording an all-time high in the NT.
Today, AFLNT released its 2018 participation data, and for the first time since the record-keeping began, the NT has tipped over the 48,000 mark.
This reflects a nine per cent (9%) growth year on year, signifying a participation rate of 48,815 in AFL-affiliated games and programs from September 2017 to August 2018, during the official counting period.
This participation rate represents 20% of the NT’s population, the highest per capita of any state/territory.
For a full breakdown of the participation data, see this infographic here.
A further 13,944 people were also exposed to an official AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) program or event through promotional activities.
Last year women’s football programs expanded with competitions/carnivals in Galiwin’ku, Gove, Ramingining and Central Australia, as well as training programs beginning in Magingrida, Tiwi and Groote Eylandt, driven by the AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) remote projects team.
The number of females engaging in regular club footy around the NT is up by more than 11% (11.53%), with the overall growth in the women’s space at almost 7% (6.82%).
This increase is also attributed to the expansion of footy carnivals to include women and junior participants.
Australian Football also remains an integral part of the NT school curriculum and engagement strategy, with more than 23,000 youngsters participating in school programs and 3,176 in school competitions last year.
Across the NT, a little over 20,100 participants were considered as metropolitan participants as they were in the Darwin/Darwin Rural area, while the majority (28,624) are considered as non-metropolitan/remote participants.
In 2018 AFLNT had nine staff engaged in eight regions across the Northern Territory; Central Australia, Galiwin’ku, Gove, Groote Eylandt, Lajamanu, Maningrida, Tiwi Islands and Wadeye.
Manager of AFLNT Game Development Emily Wastle-Hopkins said the 2018 numbers highlighted the high value the NT community placed in football.
“It’s really exciting to see our great game growing here in the Northern Territory. It continues to show how important football is and the impact it can have on the lives of Territorians.
“Off the back of competitions like the AFLW and our programs with NT Thunder, we can see female football is going from strength to strength, but it’s especially pleasing to see this underpinning the growth in football programs in the NT remote communities as well,” she said.
On a national note, The AFL announced yesterday that participation across all levels of Australian Football reached a record high of 1,649,178, an increase of 6.5 per cent (6.5%) from 2017.
All states and territories saw an increase in overall participation in areas including female football, inclusion, NAB AFL Auskick and community football.
The NT inclusion team, which will hold its first come and try night on Tuesday 19 March, is one of Wastle-Hopkins’ favourite success stories of 2018.
“The NT inclusion team went from having seven participants in 2017 and not winning a game at the national carnival to sending almost a full squad to the national carnival in Tasmania in 2018.
“We had 14 young male Territorians, including two remote players from the Tiwi Islands and Yirrkala, win five games throughout the week and make it through to the Division 2 final so we’re looking forward to developing this program further in 2019.
“The results released today should be celebrated by everyone involved because they wouldn’t happen without the tireless work of our staff, clubs, umpires, affiliated leagues, sponsors and volunteers,” Wastle-Hopkins said.
2018 NT participation highlights
Overall participation – 48,815 (9.14% growth)
- Metropolitan (Darwin/Darwin Rural only) – 20,191
- Non-Metropolitan - 28,624
- Overall female participation – 16,401
Total competition participants – 13,958 (13.55% growth)
- Participants in community club competitions – 10,674
- School competition participants – 3,176
- Female club participants – 2,060
Total program participants – 34,857 (7.46% growth)
- Participants in Club Carnivals/Events – 6,322
- Auskick participation – 5,261
- School program participation – 23,274