Aussie Rules in Queensland continues to soar to new heights, with the all-time community football participation record surpassed. More than 68,000 people are now registered to play Australia’s game in the sunshine state.
The record was announced on Thursday 24 August at Sherwood AFC with Brisbane Lions players Daniel Rich and Natalie Grider, Gold Coast SUNS players Ben King and Claudia Whitfort, and Sherwood Magpies junior and Auskick players present.
The 2023 figure has increased by 10,000 participants after AFL Queensland recorded 58,250 registered participants in 2022. The overall total encompasses participants from NAB AFL Auskick, Superstars, junior, youth, senior and social community football from the southern Gold Coast up to Cape York.
More boys and girls are picking up a football for the first time in Queensland’s renowned Auskick programs than ever before, with more than 30,000 Auskickers joining the program – a 45 per cent increase on participants since 2019.
Some of the fastest growing Auskick areas in Queensland are the western corridor, specifically the Ipswich region, which has experienced 45 per cent growth since 2022. The Gold Coast has also enjoyed a 37 per cent increase.
Across the board, compared to 2019, AFL Queensland has experienced 26 per cent growth in participation. 2023 is the biggest year yet and this milestone comes off the back of two record breaking years for participation in Queensland.
Since 2019, across South East Queensland, the youth and junior competitions have seen an influx of participants, soaring by 40 per cent; more than 4,000 girls now participate in junior competitions, which is an increase of 72 per cent since 2019; overall, AFL Queensland has experienced a 10 per cent rise in female participants in community competitions; and male youth participation has also grown by 12 per cent.
The introduction of the inaugural Queensland Wheelchair Football League with four foundation clubs competing in an eight-week competition has also boosted participation numbers.
The pathway from grassroots to the big stage is clear for participants coming through, with the exceptional talent of players within Queensland proof that it is on the way to becoming an AFL state.
Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires, said “I’m extremely proud of the progress AFL has made in Queensland, becoming one of the most popular sports in the state.
“To keep up with this incredible growth we must continue to invest in our football ecosystem by growing our facilities and our coaching, umpiring and volunteer networks.
“This community participation milestone would not be possible without the unwavering dedication from coaches, umpires and volunteers along with local and state governments. We are grateful for their continued support in growing our great game.
“Since hosting the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final at the Gabba, we have continued to build year on year and these results show we are not slowing down.
“We are also grateful for the support from our Queensland-based AFL clubs, the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS, who have both seen record-breaking increases in membership figures for 2023.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming NAB AFLW season, which starts on Friday September 1 and cheering on the SUNS and Lions in their campaigns.
“We also want to congratulate the Lions’ men’s side for locking in a 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series appearance spot and we are excited by the new era at the SUNS under their coach Damien Hardwick.”
Growth, Participation and Operations Manager for AFL Queensland Richie Lyons, said, “It’s incredible to be a part of a team that has a mission of providing quality AFL experiences for everybody across Queensland.
“We give kids the opportunity to give footy a go through our Auskick and junior programs, develop players through our youth and senior competitions, and lay a foundation for footy success through our various pathways and programs including our state league competition, Lions and SUNS Academies, and state representative teams.
“To see this growth is testament to the hard work we do behind the scenes to offer Queenslanders every opportunity to play AFL, whether it be through our community competitions, social AFL, inclusion competitions or Wheelchair AFL.”