The AFL has teamed up with the South Australian Government and SANFL to provide an $8 million funding boost for community football facilities in SA, as part of the legacy of the state being the first to host AFL Gather Round.
An annual pool of $2.5 million over the next three years, plus an additional pool of $500,000 for smaller projects, will be available to Australian Rules footy clubs, local councils, umpire associations and schools or tertiary institutions, through the newly established South Australian Football Facilities Fund.
Grants of up to $150,000 are on offer to support the delivery of major facilities projects, such as changeroom upgrades, lighting and construction of new ovals, with up to $50,000 available for smaller projects, such as goal posts and electronic scoreboards.
Off the back of Gather Round and the growing popularity of Australian football in South Australia, particularly for women and girls, there is a need for investment in facilities and infrastructure to cater for the game’s growth.
Quotes attributable to AFL CEO, Andrew Dillon:
“Following the first ever and hugely successful AFL Gather Round this year and the commitment to keeping the event in SA through to 2026, it is fantastic to strengthen our partnership with the South Australian Government and SANFL through the South Australian Football Facilities Fund.
“Gather Round does not just impact the elite game. In 2023 we saw how it uniquely engaged local football clubs and communities across the state and generated an excitement that can inspire future generations.
“The AFL is committed to supporting community football to ensure the game thrives. The $8 million funding program will help to leave a lasting, positive impact and provide South Australian local clubs and communities with facilities that support the game's growth.
“Community football is the heartbeat of the game, particularly in a heartland football state like South Australia, and it is imperative that participants have access to welcoming, inclusive and fit-for-purpose facilities.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the South Australian Government and Premier Malinauskas for their vision and commitment to expanding football in the state. Working alongside the State Government and SANFL, the AFL is excited to see outcomes that can be generated through the first South Australian Football Facilities Fund.”
Quotes attributable to AFL Executive General Manager Game Development, Rob Auld:
“South Australia has such a long, rich history in Australian football and to help secure the game’s future at all levels, further investment is required to ensure grassroots facilities are adequate for all participants.
“In 2023, there were around 65,000 playing participants in South Australia as well as 3,500 coaches, more than 2,200 umpires and thousands of volunteers, which shows how big the game is and how important it is to communities across the state.
“The South Australian Football Facilities Fund will help to deliver projects that provide all those involved in the game with a positive, enjoyable experience and bring new people to football.”
Quotes attributable to SA Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Katrine Hildyard MP:
“Gather Round has brought visitors to our beautiful state and seen South Australians in their thousands flock to the footy and the incredible atmosphere and excitement it has created. It has also inspired greater participation in footy. We want local clubs and their communities to be enabled to respond to that growing participation and benefit from Gather Round in the long term.
“This funding program will enable them to do just that. It is the perfect vehicle for local sporting clubs and communities to grow and improve their facilities.
“With girls from the age of five participating in entry level AFL Auskick doubling since 2016 and 60 per cent of changerooms not up to standard, it’s fantastic that this funding can go towards improving facilities to help ensure they can continue to chase their footy dreams and know they belong and are welcome to equally and actively participate.
“Like many South Australians, I can’t wait for the next Gather Round and am so pleased that footballers in communities across the state will benefit from this Gather Round inspired funding program.”
Quotes attributable to SANFL CEO, Darren Chandler:
“We’ve come a long way with facilities and have seen some fantastic projects undertaken over the past few years, however we still have 60 per cent of changerooms which are not of an adequate standard for female players and umpires.
“There is also a critical need to cater for increasing capacity at existing venues by improving the quality of ovals, lighting and infrastructure, as well as identifying opportunities for new ovals to support an increasing number of female teams.
“From SANFL clubs to local grassroots community clubs, the fund will enhance the capacity of facilities and create welcoming and inclusive environments for all genders and all-abilities.”
Applications for funding through the South Australian Football Facilities Fund are open for submission. For more information about the fund and how to apply, visit www.sanfl.com.au/safacilitiesfund
Other examples of how the AFL is supporting community football:
- The AFL has committed to a major increase in support for community football through an enshrined minimum level of annual funding – 10 per cent of the game’s revenue from 2023 onwards. This took investment in game development from $50 million in 2022 up to $67 million this year, with further increases projected in years to come.
- The AFL teamed up with the WA Government to commit $5m to supporting community football in the Kimberley region as part of the 2021 AFL Grand Final legacy
- The AFL and Queensland Government came together with an $8m partnership to support new community football facilities as part of the 2020 AFL Grand Final legacy