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AFL Kickstart Indigenous Programs
About 90,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders participate in Australian football. The Australian Football League (AFL) seeks to use Australian football as the vehicle to improve the quality of life in Indigenous communities, not only in sport, but in the areas of employment, education and health outcomes. The AFL runs several programs under the AFL Kickstart banner:
- Indigenous All Stars - every two years up to 80 players are invited to participate in a camp which focuses on career development and leadership. During the week, players vie for selection to play in the Indigenous All Stars match against an AFL club.
- The Rio Tinto Footy Means Business program - comprises two camps annually for 50 young Indigenous men from all over Australia. Participants are exposed to the routine of a professional AFL player and are introduced to potential career opportunities with AFL corporate partners. Between camps, participants are assigned a mentor and undertake a personal development project in their community.
- Kickstart championships - players for the Kickstart championships are selected through state Kickstart camps on leadership qualities, school attendance, community involvement and football ability. During the championships participants meet Indigenous AFL players. The championships provide development opportunities in other roles such as umpiring, coaching and administration.
- Flying Boomerangs - a personal development and leadership program. Participants are 14 to 15 years of age and are selected from the Kickstart championships to play matches against teams from developing countries.
- Ambassadors for Life - a mentoring program. AFL players are enlisted to mentor participants in the Flying Boomerangs program. Mentors aim to help participants to become equipped with life skills, stay in school, and further develop their football and other talents.
- The Club Partnership Program - supported by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). The program facilitates partnerships between the AFL, AFL clubs and remote Aboriginal communities to:
- achieve cultural and professional development for AFL players and staff
- build the aspiration of local community members
- form strong local partnerships
- strengthen delivery of structured football competition.
- Indigenous Academies - the AFL has five Indigenous academies designed to increase school attendance, completion of year 12, and Indigenous participation in sport. Each academy has its own program to respond to local opportunities and needs. Some academies are co-educational and offer sports in addition to football such as netball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and rugby league.
- Talent Pathways - Indigenous programs are run at community, regional, and state levels. Participants need to be a part of their community football and be involved in a football club. This participation enables them to be selected to be a part of programs at a regional or state level, then national level. The AFL joins in partnership with schools and communities to deliver improved school and academic performance; increase employment opportunities, participation in AFL and talent identification; and strengthen culture, identity and self-esteem.
Abstract adapted from Australian Football League
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