There is no doubting Aussie Rules football is still the number one game in town.
AFL Victoria’s 2014 census data shows football is as popular as ever with Victoria’s ever-changing and increasingly diverse population.
Total participation surpassed even AFL Victoria’s ambitious growth targets this year, climbing by almost nine per cent to a record high of 290,998.
Results were particularly pleasing in country Victoria where total participation broke the 100,000 barrier for the first time.
The increase demonstrates the success of the restructure of football governance in country Victoria and the establishment of region commissions, which were recommended in the 2011 Review of Football in Country Victoria.
Pleasingly, participation increases were recorded in all participation segments – Club, NAB Auskick, Schools and AFL 9s.
Highlights include a 41% jump in female participation with 193 dedicated female teams, 48 of them new in 2014, and 27 dedicated female competitions now in operation within the state.
Club-based participation rose to record highs in a positive sign that community club football continues to be the mainstay of participation in Victoria.
There are now more than 1100 football clubs spread across almost every community in the State, providing a wonderful avenue for people to participate and come together through football.
AFL Victoria General Manager Steven Reaper said the growth illustrated the success of AFL Victoria’s many programs and initiatives and the tireless work undertaken by community leagues and clubs across the State.
“To post record figures in such a competitive market is testament to the hard work of our employees around the State and the estimated 78,000 volunteers that drive NAB Auskick, school, junior and senior football in the community,” Reaper said.
“The football opportunities now on offer to participants with the introduction of AFL 9s and other initiatives have resulted in our game becoming more accessible to groups in the community.”
“We will continue to refine the programs we offer and work with the hundreds of fantastic community clubs in Victoria to ensure we keep pace with the changing demands of participants.”
Reaper also identified the huge growth in female football as major achievement for everyone involved the game’s fastest growing segment.
“The continued integration of female football competitions within community football leagues, particularly at junior level, is creating more opportunities for females to play the game and they are clearly voting with their feet.”