By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Australian Rules football will be offered as a sporting option among a collective of Brisbane’s private schools for the first time in 2019.
The landmark change was announced by the Associated Independent Colleges – a contingent of eight private schools around Brisbane, on May 14, and will be offered to students from grades five to 12 in the first term of the year.
Formed 20 years ago, the AIC, which includes Iona, St Laurence’s Villanova, Marist Brothers Ashgrove, Padua, St Edmund’s, St Patrick’s and St Peters Lutheran colleges, only previously offered soccer and rugby union as football code options.
But from 2019, Australian Rules, along with Rugby League, will commence on a two-year trial basis. Games in the Australian Rules competition will take place on Friday nights for students in grades eight to 12 and on Saturday mornings for grades five to seven.
The sweeping variations in the sporting landscape come as a result of an extensive sports review by the AIC, aimed at ensuring the options improved student well-being and provided healthy competition.
In late 2017, the AIC requested feedback from parents, staff and students about the sport offerings, which also include ten other sports such as swimming, cricket and track and field.
A highly qualified review team, led by Cliff Mallett, Professor in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland, conducted research and sought survey responses from over 4700 people and focus groups.
The team delivered their recommendations to the AIC Management Committee, which includes the Principals from all eight schools. The report found that parents were satisfied with the current offerings, but it was evident that many students and parents wanted Australian Rules football to be introduced.
The AIC Management Committee advised parents, students and staff of the outcomes yesterday.
AFL Queensland CEO, Dean Warren, lauded the opportunity for more people to play Australian Rules football at an early age.
“AFL is growing exponentially in Queensland with more and more people taking up the sport every year.”
“The AIC’s decision to offer AFL across the eight colleges not only reflective of our growth, but our codes position within the Australian community.”
“We look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with the AIC to provide high quality and well-resourced competitions that will ensure students can wear their college colours proudly in a safe and supportive environment” Warren told aflq.com.au
The full outcomes of the review include:
- The continuation of all sport offerings including the likes of swimming, volleyball, cricket, chess, football, rugby union, cross country, golf, basketball, track and field and tennis.
- The development of an AIC charter that will underpin our competition
- The introduction of an Australian Rules football competition – on a two-year trial basis – to be played in the first term of 2019
- The introduction of a rugby league competition – on a two-year trial basis – to be played in the third term of 2019
- A proposal to switch track and field from the fourth term to the third term to help senior students to focus on their final exams
- Stronger partnerships with external sporting associations including national bodies
- A commitment to strong safety standards to all contact sports