2019 AFL Canada Annual Report
Congratulations to the elected board of directors for 2020:
President: Lachlan Griffiths (Calgary Kangaroos)
Vice President: Chris Bourque (Sydney Giants)
Treasurer: David Smith (Sydney Giants)
Director at Large (Women’s Rep): Tricia Rolfe (Calgary Kookaburras)
Director at Large (Men’s Rep): James Duggan (Toronto Dingoes)
Director: Lara Hilmi (Etobicoke Kangaroos)
We’re looking forward to another year of growing Australian Football in Canada.
Australian football in Canada enjoyed another year of growth in overall participation across the country with total participation numbers rising to 23,424, an increase of over 2,000 participants from 2018. This was once again led by the junior and school programs across many regions with total junior program participants registering at over 20,000 students. Senior numbers decreased around 10% on 2018 numbers with 876 senior players across 41 teams nationally.
The umpiring fraternity showed that they are going from strength to strength with five Umpires being selected to represent Canada at the 2020 International cup in July/August.
Peter Dinnick was selected as the National Umpire representative in 2019 and is working alongside Kevin Murray, on developing umpiring pathways and databases for a national Umpires register. Peter was also kind enough to design, donate and distribute national uniforms to Umpires across Canada.
AFL Canada was pleased to supply all level one Umpires with an AFL Canada engraved ACME Thunderer whistle in 2019 and will do so again to all newly accredited umpires in 2020.
Over the Summer of 2019, AFL Canada obtained funding via the Canada Summer Jobs program and hired two interns who assisted with social media, junior programming and increasing the profile of footy in Canada. Both Jason (BC) and Katie (Ontario) provided valuable assistance and support to AFL BC and AFL Ontario respectively, as well as our National Teams and AFL Canada collectively.
In August 2019 we said goodbye to Penny who had been with us for the past 18 months. Penny had assisted across a number of areas, most notably in helping write the LTAD that was published in December of 2018, and we wish her well in her future endeavours. In November 2019, we hired Jacob Haeusler as our new full time Development Manager. Jacob is a PE teacher from Victoria, Australia and has spent the last 5 years working in junior programming for X Movement in Toronto.
The AFL International Cup dates and locations we announced. The cup will be running from July 25 to August 8, 2020 on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. National Team head coaches Candace Kwan and Cody Royle, along with their assistant coaches and staff have been working feverishly to prepare their teams for the upcoming competition.
National teams were selected from training camps and tryouts held in the East and West of the country in the Summer of 2019. The Northern Lights and Northwind will each be taking squads of 28 players to the Sunshine Coast in July. Congratulations to all players selected to represent their country.
During 2019, emerging clubs continued their growth. Winnipeg Bears have been attending conferences and are in contact with schools looking to build out a junior schools program to establish a grass roots base. This is scheduled to start in Spring 2020. The Forrest City Phantoms rebranded to the Forrest City Crows thanks to a connection with the AFL Club, the Adelaide Crows. AFL Canada is continuing to look into new regions and ways to establish growth at a junior and senior level through 2020.
Under the guidance of our Communications Manager, Shane Hendrickson our online footprint has continued to grow across our social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter enjoyed growth years of 11% & 12% respectively whilst Instagram held steady in terms of followers. Thanks to Shane for the countless hours he puts in managing our website and social media platforms that have helped grow exposure of the game over the past year.
AFL Canada has been exploring different revenue options throughout 2019. The AFL Canada online shop launched in March 2019 and has proved to be an easy and accessible way for AFL Canada members to purchase footy equipment. This year we will be looking to diversify products to offer members a wider range and increase shop revenue.
As well as that, we have a new deal in place with Flaghouse Sporting Wholesalers who will be supplying our junior equipment and resources to schools, starting in Ontario and spreading nationwide in 2020.
The AFL again has recognized our work over the past few years stabilising our governance, engaging with our members and increasing participation numbers, and will continue our funding again for 2020.
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. Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are all on their way to developing the policies and governance structure to be recognised as PSO’s and qualify for additional government funding.
In closing, I want to thank the 2019 board, staff and volunteers for their 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 help football to continue to grow here in Canada.
AFL Canada President