AFL caps big year in Vic schools with participation milestone

Carlton FC AFL players Sam Durdin, Jaxon Binns, Matthew Kennedy and Charlie Curnow visit Wollert Primary School in December 2022, as part of what's been a big year for the AFL in Victorian schools

Participation through in-school delivered Australian football programs across Victoria hit record levels in 2022 as the game rebounded strongly after two years of disruption.

More than 250,000 primary and secondary students in Victoria participated in the AFL’s new AFL Play program through the support of the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s Positive Start initiative.

Reaching a quarter-of-a-million school participants in Victoria represented a significant uplift in overall participation through in-school delivered football programs across the state when compared to 2021 (31,000) and pre-pandemic levels of 2019 (47,000).

AFL Play is a curriculum-linked and industry-designed program for all primary and secondary schools. The program offers students of all ages, genders and ability the opportunity to be active in a safe and inclusive environment with the aim to build a life-long connection to the game. This program will continue in 2023 where school engagement will continue to be a priority for the AFL.

The success of school engagement in Victoria was a driving force behind the AFL surpassing one million kids participating in AFL schools programs and competitions nationally in 2022, which took national school participation numbers back to record-setting 2019 levels.

Head of AFL Victoria, Ben Kavenagh, said: “The AFL came into this year with a renewed focus on school and household engagement with so many students having experienced disrupted years in 2020 and 2021, when many physical programs and activities were unable to take place as normal.

“AFL Victoria is thrilled with how schools have re-engaged in 2022 and allowed us to deliver programs in record numbers, ensuring the game of Australian football remains an important and prominent part of so many schools and communities across the state.

“To see Victorian primary and secondary school students engaged and enjoying programs involving Australian football in these numbers was fantastic for the kids who were able to keep active, learn new skills and experience the associated physical and emotional health and wellbeing benefits, also a positive for parents and the schools these kids attend.

“I would like to thank all schools involved in AFL-led programs in 2022 and congratulate the AFL Victoria team on the ground that delivered these programs for the benefit of students and schools all over the state.

“AFL Victoria looks forward to increasing its efforts to engage schools in 2023.”

The announcement of the participation record in 2022 comes after the AFL recently launched its new, free schools program, bolstering its commitment to growing the game of Australian Football in primary school-aged classrooms and playing fields across the country.

The AFL Schools program, available at, will make physical football activities more accessible and easier for teachers to deliver, while also increasing classroom-based educational outcomes with a suite of free, online curriculum resources.