AGM and president's report
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
AFL Canada board re-elect Lachlan Griffiths (president), Sarah Ennor (vice
president) and David Smith (treasurer), and elect Tricia Rolfe (women's player
rep) and Chris Bourque (men's player rep) for the 2018 year.
AFL CANADA (March 4, 2018) – The AFL Canada AGM was held on March 4, and
Lachlan Griffiths (president), Sarah Ennor (vice president) and David Smith (treasurer)
were all re-elected for the 2018 term, unopposed. A motion to change our bylaws was
passed, and two new roles were added, with Tricia Rolfe becoming the women's player
representative and Chris Bourque the men's player representation. These two new roles
ensure our athletes have a voice in national team programming.
A summary of the president's report follows:
2017 was another successful year for Footy in Canada measured against the three focus areas of growth, development and promotion. Participation across the country continued to rise, led by the growth of women’s footy in Vancouver and youth programs in Calgary.
Our national teams represented Canada admirably in both London and Melbourne and we were able to grow the exposure of the game through increase engagement via our online platforms and a new telecast agreement with CBC, with all IC17 Canada games being streamed digitally online through CBCSports.ca.
We’ve continued to listen to our members, hosting four “open house” sessions across
the country and reaching out to each club president for direct feedback on the future of
the game in Canada. Our new strategic plan will be released shortly, capturing the input
we’ve received, to help guide us forward.
As recognition for the work over the past two years stabilising our governance and
engaging with our members, the AFL has continued to increase our funding. This
increase in funding has allowed us to bring on our first full-time staff, Bram Cotton. Bram
is an experienced sports administrator with 15 years of progressively experienced roles
within the Canadian PSO and NSO space. Bram’s immediate focus is on assisting AFL
Canada position ourselves to be recognised by Sport Canada as a National Sporting
Following the 2016 Canadian Nationals and training camp, we selected a men’s and
women’s national development team who toured London, England playing against Europe’s best. Our Midnight Suns finished with a 2-1 record, beating the London All Stars and the Great Britain Swans and falling narrowly to the Irish Banshees. Our North Stars finished with a 1-2 record, being soundly beaten by the Great Britain Bulldogs and Wandsworth Demons, but bouncing back to beat the Welsh national team.
Thanks to AFL Europe for being such fantastic hosts for this tournament, and also
providing ten of our travelling coaches and senior players with their Level One coaching
accreditation through a full-day coaching course, led by AFL Europe General Manager
In August, our national teams travelled to Melbourne, Australia to compete in the triennial International Cup tournament. Williamstown Football Club were gracious hosts, offering their VFL facilities as a training base for the week prior to the tournament.
The Northwind lost a close opening game against the USA, before bouncing back to
defeat the Great Britain Bulldogs. In the community round, played at Glen Waverley New
Zealand were too strong, putting us into the consolidation side of the finals bracket, and
a play-off against Nauru who also proved too good in windy conditions. The final game,
to decide 7v8 spot was against a physical Fiji, however we played a polished game,
winning our final game 24 v 21 in a tense affair to close the tournament with a 2-3 record
and 7th overall placing.
Burnaby Eagles star Eric Klein was named to the World Team, one of the few very male players not based in Australia to do so.
The Northern Lights faced a tough Fiji in the opening game, escaping with a narrow one
point win in a thriller, before facing newcomers Pakistan and easily taking care of them.
Great Britain, also 2-0 were up next, with the winner to take top spot in the pool, and the
Lights were too good, running out winners 34-3. In a semi-final against Pool B 2 nd placed
team USA, our women continued their winning form, trouncing our southern neighbours
44-8 and earning a place in the Grand Final on Eithad Stadium against old foe Ireland. In
a back-and- forth battle, we had plenty of opportunities but fell agonisingly short, losing
23 to 25 in a replay of the 2014 Grand Final. Valerie Moreau was named player of the
tournament with Lara Hilmi, Aimee Legault, Nicola Kirwan, Hilary Perry and head coach
Jason Arnold also named to the world team.
We would like to thank Paul Sadler Swimland Canada, Colliers International,
PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia, Hemingways & Squizza’s who provided valuable
sponsorship support to our National teams, to help offset some costs for our travelling
players and coaches.
We would like to thank Jason Arnold and Cody Royle, all their assistant coaches, team
managers Roberta and Brad, and all the other support volunteers who assisted our
teams in both their preparation and participation in this international cup.
We have surveyed our players and coaches to solicit feedback that is being used to help
us continue to improve our support of the national teams, and give them the best chance
to succeed on the international stage. We have already put some changes in place following the fantastic feedback we received and have a few more changes that’ll be developed and put in place in the coming years leading up to IC20.
Burley Sekem were selected as official supplier for our IC17 teams, sponsoring all on-
field kits for our IC17 teams, and providing all off-field items as well. We maintained our
relationship with 2XU who provide discount to our provincial and national team players
and also Vistek who generously donate video equipment for use by our national teams.
Our Sherrin relationship that enables us to offer all member clubs a discount off the retail
price of Sherrins, has resulted in savings of roughly $5000 for our members in 2017. We
are grateful for the support of our partners and sponsors.
At a participation level, we had another year of overall growth, driven primarily by the
AFL BC women and Calgary men and juniors. AFL BC men, Edmonton and Ontario
women numbers were down in 2017 while Calgary women, Ontario men, Quebec and
Nova Scotia were relatively flat.
During 2017 and into early 2018 we’ve been in touch new and potential new clubs with
the Winnipeg Bears, Fort McMurray Magpies, Barrie Ballarats all looking to grow footy in
their regions in 2018. We are currently re-evaluating how we can better support new and
emerging clubs to ensure we are a catalyst for growth in new regions.
We were pleased to approve a number of grants in 2017, including; a grant for new goal
posts for North Delta Junior AFL, Junior Footys for Edmonton AFC, and three new club
grants to help the Vernon Roosters, Vancouver Vixens and Sydney Giants.
Under the guidance of our communications manager, Lisa Dalla Rosa and Shane
Hendrickson, our online footprint has continued to grow. Thanks to both Lisa and Shane for
the countless hours they put in managing our website and social media platforms that
have helped grow exposure of the game over the past year.
As you can see, AFL Canada has made significant progress in 2017, engaging with its
members, building relationships with leagues, governing bodies, and sponsors,
supporting our national teams and working to provide value to its members. But there’s
plenty left to do.
While we have an established player and umpire pathway, we are still working with
NCCP for formal recognition for our sport for a coaching pathway.
The board continues to engage with Sport Canada to develop policies and best practices
in line with other NSOs and have been working with our larger leagues to start the
discussions around each province receiving PSO recognition. Recent policies we’ve
developed and adopted include: Concussion Policy, Lightning Policy, Conflict of Interest
Policy and Appeals policy.
In closing, I want to thank the 2017 board for its hard work and significant accomplishments. I’d encourage all clubs to continue to increase the communication and engagement among themselves and with their leagues and AFL Canada. This will to help football to continue to grow here in Canada.