Calgary a shining light in junior development
Calgary continues to be a leader in junior footy, employing the first full-time non-AFL funded role outside of Australia.
Jarrod Moore will guide junior footy in Calgary after spending the past five years running Sapphire Coast AFL in New South Wales.
“I was looking for a change and have always wanted to travel to Canada and thought now was the ideal time when the position arose,” Jarrod said.
“The children have been quite different as children in Australia as they have little knowledge of the game, but in the end kids just like trying something new and kicking is a big drawcard for the game and children.”
The Kangaroos have been running all youth programs in Calgary for five years, but players volunteering became insufficient as interest continued to grow.
Calgary Kangaroos president Dan McLeod said there had been more than 15,000 kids in schools in 2018 and another 200 kids registered in afterschool AusKick programs.
“Interest grows every year, now to the point where we couldn't run it with just volunteers anymore, so we've hired a full-time coach to manage all our school and after-school programs,” Dan said.
“The future of the sport needs Canadians and will thrive if we can introduce players at a younger age, so we've made it a focus over the past few years to start building youth programs and pathways.”
“The long-term goal is to follow these kids each year so we have a pipeline of programs from five-years-old through to our senior programs.”
AFL Canada president Lachlan Griffiths said the model could work in other Canadian cities.
“It’s worked so far in Calgary as the Kangaroos board recognized that long-term we need to focus on building opportunities for youth,” Lachlan said.
“The commitment (financial and people resources) by the Calgary board has seen the youth program grow exponentially and lead to this first full-time role.
“We’re really proud to be able to have seen the youth program grow to this point. It shows that the sport can succeed beyond Australia and that it can be self-sufficient.”