THE emergence of AFLX around Australia has had such an impact that AFL North Coast football operations coordinator Paul Taylor believes it is here to stay.
The smaller-sided game played on a rectangular field is to Aussie Rules what the Big Bash is to cricket and rugby sevens is to rugby union.
Clontarf academies from Kempsey and Port Macquarie trialled it at Findlay Park on Tuesday morning.
Port Macquarie Clontarf Academy director Charlie Maher said the gala day was a result of a partnership between them and AFL North Coast.
“AFLX is a new concept that they have come up with this year right across Australia,” Maher said.
“So they (AFL North Coast) approached us and our program and wanted to get some boys involved in it.
“A lot of the boys aren’t involved in playing AFL, so it’s about having a go mainly.”
Maher said sport was important to the academy and it didn’t “matter what sport the boys play.”
“As long as the boys are having fun and giving things a go, that’s the main thing,” he said.
“Our program does well in the schools because they love coming to school.”
Taylor said Tuesday’s gala day was the first chance for AFLX to be played on the Mid North Coast.
It was a bit of a test day in a sense.Paul Taylor
“It was a bit of a test day in a sense,” he said.
“For the Clontarf kids … we’ve been working with them since the end of last year trying to support them in their mission of trying to keep kids in school.
“They do that through sport and we support that.”
Taylor said most of the students who participated in the gala day came from a rugby league or rugby union background.
But if the smiles on their faces throughout the day was an indication, they enjoyed their new game.
“It’s something different for a lot of them,” Taylor said.
“A lot of the kids who play regular footy aren’t here today so it’s about trialling a new sport.
“For a lot of these kids who come from the background of another sport, their body shape probably isn’t the right fit.
As long as the boys are having fun and giving things a go, that’s the main thing.Charlie Maher
“But then you have a lot of them in terms of who want to go further in any particular sport, they might look at AFLX a little more seriously as something to consider.”
Taylor said the introduction of AFLX was another way of trying to grow the sport of Aussie Rules.
“There’s definitely a future for AFLX pretty much everywhere,” he said.
“I guess from the big picture side of things they’re looking at it as an avenue that can grow the game overseas.
“Over there, there is a prevalence of rectangular fields and you don’t need as bigger numbers to field a team.
“We’re definitely looking at it as something to do more of locally and looking forward to kicking on from here.”