Published on February 26, 2019 8:55 am

Record participation for football in Victoria

More Victorians are playing Australian Football than ever before, with new participation rates revealing a rise across all key segments.

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AFL Victoria’s 2018 Census data showed 474,633 participants picked up the football last season, an increase of 2.8 per cent on 2017.

Female football continued to grow, with 127,115 women and girls pulling on the jumper in season 2018, representing 26 per cent of all participation. There were an additional 250 new female teams join competitions in 2018, which now sees a total of almost 1,000 dedicated female club teams across Victoria.

Community football across the state is in good health, with a total increase of 4 per cent in club participation breaking through 170,000 for the first time.

Children of all ages continued to flock to the game in 2018, with 42,366 participants in NAB AFL Auskick, while junior football numbers rose to new record levels of 60,825.

The introduction of new inclusion programs such as AFL Blind and the Robert Rose Foundation Victorian Wheelchair Football League has contributed to 1,563 people who identify as having a disability play our game.

Australian Football’s ability to embrace cultural diversity was also highlighted, with a rise in Indigenous participants to 11,727 and a total of 54,574 Multicultural participants.

Coaching and umpiring numbers also rose, with 17,197 accredited coaches and 7,855 umpires taking to the field.

Head of AFL Victoria Rick Bell said it was pleasing to see that AFL Victoria’s commitment of being the most accessible sport for all Victorian’s has been reinforced.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your ability, or your experience level is, every Victorian has the opportunity to get involved in our game,” Mr. Bell said.

“The football opportunities now on offer to participants from all walks of life including our many coaching courses, multicultural and indigenous pathways, inclusion and umpire programs have resulted in our game becoming more accessible to all parts of the community.

“To have participation rates again rise to record levels reflects the tireless work of our staff, community leagues and more than 80,000 volunteers who are the backbone of football in Victoria.

“To help accommodate this growth, AFL Victoria is working closely with the AFL, local leagues, and all levels of government to improve our sport’s community facilities. In 2018 alone, the AFL provided almost $3M in direct investment to club facilities which has helped generate more than $100M in total facility development, benefitting around 200 clubs.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the hundreds of fantastic community clubs in Victoria to ensure we keep pace with the changing demands of participants and the communities they represent.”

2018 AFL Victoria participation highlights

  • Total participation –474,633
  • Community Club participation – 172,050
  • Female participation – 127,115
  • NAB AFL Auskick participation – 42,366
  • AFL 9s participation – 3,636
  • School programs and competition participation –256,581
  • Indigenous participation – 11,727
  • Multicultural participation – 54,574
  • Disability participation – 1,563
  • Accredited coaches – 17,197
  • Accredited umpires – 7,855

See below infographic for more information:


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