Local primary schools invited to enter expanded 9v9 AFL competition

Local schools are invited to take part in an upcoming 9v9 AFL competition. Picture: ON FILE

AFL Victoria and School Sport Victoria (SSV) have partnered to launch an expanded nine-a-side Australian rules football competition for primary schools across the state.

Following a successful pilot last year, there will be 33 ‘Gala Day’ 9v9 competitions held across Victoria throughout July and August in 2024, during Term 3 of the school year. The Gala Day for the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges will be held on Friday 2 August at Wally Tew Reserve, Ferntree Gully while there will also be a Gala Day for Knox (Friday 30 August: Lewis Park, Wantirna South), Maroondah (Monday 26 August, Templestowe Reserve) and Cardinia schools Wednesday 7 August, Casey Fields Oval 2 and 3) alongside other regions.

Registration is free for SSV Victorian primary school members, with the program open to students in grades four to six to participate. There will be a girls division and a boys/mixed division at each of the 9v9 Gala Days.

Schools can enter more than one team in each division depending on their participation numbers.

First and second place from each event will progress to region level events (dates and locations to be confirmed), ahead of the State Championships being held on Wednesday, 27 November 2024 at La Trobe University in Bundoora.

The 9v9 format, involving reduced player numbers from the conventional 18-a-side football format, is designed to provide greater participation opportunities for more students and schools. Games are played on a smaller field size, allowing for multiple matches to take place on a full-size oval.

The increased number of Gala Days in 2024 comes after an eight-event pilot was successfully run in 2023, with the expanded program this year coming in ahead of 9v9 being introduced as the SSV Australian Football Primary competition format in 2025.

Head of AFL Victoria, Greg Madigan, said AFL Victoria is committed to enhancing the student experience and having more students and children playing and enjoying Australian rules football.

“We’re delighted with the expansion of the SSV 9v9 Australian rules football program in 2024 and, equally, excited about the full implementation across the SSV program in 2025,” he said.

“We think there’s improved delivery efficiency, the opportunity for more schools to be able to participate in the SSV competition, including multiple teams from the one school. Equally important this year is the education focus which we’re committed to so that SSV Coordinators, teachers and schools are fully equipped for 2025.”

Jamie Parsons, School Sport Victoria CEO, is incredibly excited about the expansion of the 9v9 format in 2024 building on the success of the pilots in 2023.

“The evidence is clear, the format will provide a better student experience with more students constantly involved in the play with the modified rules,” he said.

“We look forward to working with AFL Victoria to educate and support School Sport Victoria coordinators and Victorian schools through 2024 ahead of the full implementation of the 9v9 format as the School Sport Victoria Australian Football Primary competition in 2025.”

To support schools taking part, AFL Victoria will provide 9v9 kits consisting of balls, goals and playing bibs for SSV Coordinators. Additionally, there will be a focus on educating students, schools, teachers and SSV Coordinators on the new format, rules, umpiring and the ground set up at the Gala Days for this year and in preparation for 2025.