At a time when the AFL community is talking about the inclusion of indigenous Australians, by both AFL fans and clubs alike, National Sports Academy, Next Gen, is taking their junior football Program to the Indigenous Communities of the Northern Territory.
The Next Gen Minis Program is a junior football Program tailored for children as young as 2 years old and will be introduced to the children of the Tiwi Islands with a core focus of community engagement and with the aim of promoting indigenous inclusion within the AFL.
Based in Melbourne and partially founded by AFL footballers Jake Melksham and Tom Bellchambers, the Next Gen Sports Academy will establish programs in the Tiwi Island’s three main communities; Wurrumiyanga, Pirlangimpi and Milikapiti, with up to 120 children (2-6-year olds) partaking in the Next Gen Minis Program, as well as specialist AFL training via the Next Gen Elite Pathways program with the Tiwi Bombers, Muluwurri Magpies and Imalu Tigers.
“We’re honoured to be able to introduce an AFL, skills-based program to the indigenous communities on the Tiwi Islands at a time where inclusion, health, and development are headlining our news,” Co-founder of Next Gen Sports Academy, Ben Clark said.
“This is going to have a huge impact on the lives of children who participate.”
The Tiwi Australian Football League has the highest football participation rate in Australia, with 900 participants out of a community of approximately 2,600 people (35%) playing the game.
The introduction of the program to the Tiwi Islands will bring a much-needed avenue for young indigenous children to begin playing sport that aligns with school curriculums.
It is a grassroots movement that will encourage positive development within indigenous communities, including having a positive impact on school attendance rates, health development, and inclusion within society.
This will take place during a week-long visit in October 2019.