The AFL has released the first rounds of the 2021 NAB League Boys season with matches commencing this Saturday March 27, which will see elite Under-19 boys football return to Victoria 12 months after a 2020 season affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The future stars of men's football will be on display across Victoria kicking off with the Calder Cannons hosting the Western Jets at Highgate Recreation Reserve from 1.00pm on Saturday. All other matches will be played across the Easter long-weekend headlined by the 2019 premiers Oakleigh Chargers taking on Sandringham Dragons at RSEA Park in Moorabbin on Easter Monday, April 5 from 2.00pm.

The NAB League is the leading talent pathway program for boys and girls in Australia. On average over 50 per cent of players selected in the NAB AFL Draft come through the NAB League. The last 10 number one overall selections in the NAB AFL Draft have been drafted from the NAB League including Western Bulldogs young gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in 2020 drafted from the Oakleigh Chargers, Gold Coast midfielder Matt Rowell also from the Oakleigh Chargers in 2019 and Carlton gun Sam Walsh from Geelong Falcons in 2018.

The home and away season will feature 12 clubs from Victoria and the Tasmania Devils in a 15-week season. At the conclusion of the home and away season, a Wildcard Round will take place to determine positions four to eight with the top eight regions qualifying for a knockout finals format.

The top three sides in the home and season will have a bye while the remaining 10 sides will compete in the Wildcard Round for the finals five spots in the Finals. The NAB League Wildcard Round & Finals shall comprise of fourteen matches played over four consecutive weekends starting August 21/22.

The top-eight Finals series will commence in the last weekend in August with the Grand Final played at Ikon Park on the weekend of September 11/12. The first game of the 2021 NAB Under-19 Championships will commence on Thursday July 8 with the majority of matches played in September in Melbourne. On Saturday September 18, Victoria Metro face Victoria Country at the MCG with both squads made up of players from the NAB League.

2021 NAB AFL Academy players Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers), Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence), Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons), Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers), Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers), Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels), Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons), Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers), Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons) and Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges) are all set to make their NAB League season debuts in the coming weeks.

AFL-Club Academy players, Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy), Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy) and Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy) will also feature in games during the 2021 NAB League Boys season.

The first three weeks of the 2021 NAB League Boys fixture has been confirmed with match-ups also allocated for all rounds.

2021 NAB League Boys fixture available here.

The competition recess at the end of April will allow all boys to play community, school and senior football including in the VFL competition. The construction of the fixture will enable all boys the best opportunity to peak during August and September in the lead-up to the 2021 NAB AFL National Draft.

Quarter length will be 25-minute flat quarters with no time-on added. AFL in-play rules will be implemented for the 2021 season in addition to the density rules which has always been played in the NAB League.

The NAB League Morrish Medal will be awarded to the competition's best and fairest player as judged by the appointed Field Umpires who will record their selection of the three fairest and best players in the match in order of preference.

Calder Cannons v Western Jets, Highgate Recreation Reserve, Saturday March 27, 1.00pm
GWV Rebels v Geelong Falcons, CE Brown Reserve, Ballarat, Thursday April 1, 5.00pm
Calder Cannons v Eastern Ranges, Highgate Recreation Reserve, Friday April 2, 10.30am
Northern Knights v Western Jets, Highgate Recreation Reserve, Friday April 2, 1.00pm
Gippsland Power v Dandenong Stingrays, Morwell, Saturday April 3, 1.00pm
Murray Bushrangers v Bendigo Pioneers, Deakin Reserve, Shepparton, Sunday April 4, 1.00pm
Sandringham Dragons v Oakleigh Chargers, RSEA PARK, Monday April 5, 2.00pm
Bye - Tasmania                                                                                                

Northern Knights v Sandringham Dragons, Preston City Oval, Saturday April 10, 11:00am
Tasmania v Calder Cannons, Windsor Park, Saturday April 10, 12.30pm
Eastern Ranges v Oakleigh Chargers, Preston City Oval, Saturday April 10, 1.30pm
Bendigo Pioneers v Gippsland Power, Queen Elizabeth Oval, Sunday April 11, 10.00am
GWV Rebels v Dandenong Stingrays, Queen Elizabeth Oval, Sunday April 11, 12.30pm
Geelong Falcons v Murray Bushrangers, Queen Elizabeth Oval, Sunday April 11, 3.00pm
Bye - Western Jets                                          

Joshua Rachele from the Murray Bushrangers. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL Talent Pathway Programs have been remodelled to further align and simplify the talent pathway calendar, to provide Boys' and Girls' Programs with the same opportunities for elite development while also increasing their connection to community football.

For the first-time, Talent Pathway Coaches will be full-time positions and work across both the Girls and Boys programs to ensure the same opportunities for both genders. These coaches will be supported by at least four assistant coaches with a combination of male and female coaches who have experience working with girls and boys football programs.

As part of the new model, age groups for all AFL Talent Pathway Programs, including the NAB League Girls and Boys and the NAB AFL / AFLW National Championships, will be re-focused from U16 and U18 Levels to U17 and U19 in 2021. The 2021 NAB AFLW National Championships will be played in the Easter School Holiday period in the first weeks of April.

On Saturday March 6 over 400 boys from across Victoria participated in the 2021 NAB League Boys Fitness Testing Day where the future stars of the AFL showed their physical prowess in front of AFL recruiters.

The AFL remains committed to aligning the National, State and Community programs and how it can best benefit the development, skill and pathway for girls and boys. The Talent Pathway Program will continue to focus on a holistic football program which is heavily invested in on and off field development and performance.

While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, the health and welfare of our players and the community remains the priority and all matches will operate in a safe manner anchored in the advice of respective governments, public health officials and medical experts. Strict protocols will be in place to protect players, officials, staff and the wider public at all matches. Spectators are allowed to attend matches but limited crowd capacity will be enforced at all venues.

All matches will be streamed live through the NAB League App with thanks to Telstra. The App can be downloaded through the App Store.

NAB League

Bendigo Pioneers  Brooke Brown Danny O'Bree
Dandenong Stingrays Toby Jedwab Nick Cox
GWV Rebels    Phil Partington   David Loader
Geelong Falcons  Tom Lonergan Paul Corrigan
Gippsland Power   Scott McDougal    Rhett McLennan
Murray Bushrangers  Michael Wilson    Mark Brown


Calder Cannons      Matt Burton Ross Smith
Eastern Ranges   Danny Ryan Travis Cloke
Northern Knights   Natalie Grindall    Leigh Clarke
Oakleigh Chargers    Jy Bond    Jason Davenport
Sandringham Dragons  Mark Wheeler  Jackson Kornberg
Western Jets  Luke Williams Robbie Chancellor

* Cameron Joyce will continue to lead the Tasmania Devils in 2021.