Charlotte Capes, Josie Capes, Bella Wadham, Ben Wadham and Jake Austin from the Moore Park Tigers. Picture: Phil Hillyard

THE AFL has set its sights on having one million registered participants by 2033, with that ambition to be fuelled by $1B of investment into game development and community football in that time.

The game had nearly 530,000 registered participants in 2023 – a record – so the long-term vision represents almost doubling the current total over the next decade. This includes children involved in NAB AFL Auskick through to junior and senior club footballers, as well as coaches, umpires and volunteers.

Fuelling the game's growth will be around $1B of funding which has been committed through the AFL Commission enshrining 10 per cent of the game's total assessable revenue to go towards game development, a decision which was made in 2022.

In a few weeks the AFL will embark on the new Opening Round concept, with the first matches of the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season to be played in Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast from March 7-9, helping to promote the game in those markets.

To reach the one million registered participant goal, the AFL knows it has to increase funding and focus on the non-traditional football markets New South Wales and Queensland, while ensuring support continues to directed in heartland footy states and territories such as Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory.

Charlotte Capes, Josie Capes, Bella Wadham, Ben Wadham and Jake Austin from the Moore Park Tigers. Picture: Phil Hillyard

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon has identified supporting community football as a key priority.

"The heartbeat of our game is at the community and grassroots level. A strong community game supports the elite AFL and AFLW competitions, while a strong AFL and AFLW game helps fund and support the community," Dillon said.

"Ultimately, we (the AFL) need to ensure we continue to help build local football around the country with the goal of getting football in every home."

Josie Capes and Bella Wadham (centre) with Charlotte Capes, Ben Wadham and Jake Austin from the Moore Park Tigers. Picture: Phil Hillyard

AFL Executive General Manager of Game Development, Rob Auld, said that the funding commitment is critical to achieving the AFL's goal of having footy in every home across Australia.

"We want everyone to love our game and to find their place in our game, and we don’t want that to be limited by postcodes or by borders, by culture, age, gender or race," he said.

"This is an exciting time to be involved in our game. Our long-term commitment to game development and community footy is clear and profound."

The pillars of the plan to grow participation and get footy in every home are:

  • Geography: Focus on emerging markets NSW and Qld, more resources for heartland states and the generational opportunity presented to grow the game in Tasmania off back of 19th license
  • Products: More options to play in terms of fixturing and timeslots, new formats (Nines/Superkick)
  • Participation: increase representation of culturally diverse participants, goal of equal participation for men/women, focus on juniors aged 6-10, schools strategy
  • Facilities and environments: build on our commitment (which we’ve delivered over the past seven years) to build or develop a new oval per week, with that number now getting closer to two ovals per week every week, through new or upgraded facilities

To register to participate in 2024 or find out more about playing, coaching, umpiring, school programs and volunteering, visit