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Community football to receive $8 million boost

Major boost: Community football clubs will be jumping for joy following the AFL’s announcement of an $8 million support package. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

Christmas has come early for football clubs across the Goulburn Murray region, with the AFL announcing a nationwide $8 million investment into the game at the community level following two years disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package, set to roll out in 2022, significantly increases the AFL’s commitment to community football and game development compared to the COVID-affected years of 2020 and 2021.

While the past two years have seen financial pressure placed on many parts of the game, the funding commitment directs funds to where they’re most needed and has been made in acknowledgement of the importance of community football and the people involved.

The package will go towards getting kids active in schools, helping households return to their community clubs and bolstering support for volunteers, coaches and umpires.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said support of the game at its grassroots level was vital.

“There is no greater priority for our game in 2022 than ensuring community football bounces back and thrives,” McLachlan said.

"Footy means so much to so many people, towns and communities right across the country and we have an important role to play in helping everyone come back together, reconnecting families and friends and getting everyone back, engaged and active.

“Many have done it tough, and we don’t take for granted that community football has been affected. In some markets, particularly Victoria, NSW and the ACT, the community game has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to support the thousands of volunteers around the country who keep community clubs going and play our role in reconnecting communities, particularly where so much footy has been missed.”

Another exciting aspect of this initiative is the involvement of four-time Hawthorn Football Club premiership coach Alastair Clarkson who will be a community coaching ambassador, giving coaches at all levels access to insights from one of the game’s all-time greats.

McLachlan said having Clarkson on board was a major coup for the growth of community football.

“It’s fantastic that someone of Alastair Clarkson’s calibre and experience has come on board to help community coaches across the country,” he said.

“Alastair is passionate about working with those involved at grassroots level and I’m sure the community football coaching network will benefit from what he has to offer.”

Key components of the $8 million support package

• $1.6 million towards volunteer support — more resources on the ground in all markets to benefit volunteers.

• $1.5 million investment into schools — consolidate AFL schools program offerings nationally and help schools/teachers get kids active.

• $1.4 million to remove coaching and umpiring registration fees across Australia.

• $1 million COVID-19 fighting fund to benefit Victoria and NSW.

• $800,000 commitment to Victorian clubs for the 2022 season, such as covering certain administrative and insurance costs.

• Four-time Hawthorn Football Club premiership coach Alastair Clarkson will come on board as a community football coaching ambassador.