In Australia the game is called footy – in South Africa it’s called footyWILD.
footyWILD is a mass participation program aimed at providing an alternative to mainstream sport for young South Africans aged 8 years and up.
footyWILD for Schools
There are three distinct programs aimed at school age learners and teachers with further initiatives planned in 2009 and beyond:
1. footyWILD BIG 5 for Primary school boys and girls
2. footyWILD Game Day for Primary school teams
3. footyWILD High for Secondary school teams
footyWILD BIG 5, sponsored by Costa Logistics, is the introductory skill development program which teaches Primary school boys and girls aged 8-13 years, the BIG 5 skills of footy.
The BIG 5 skills are:
1. Marking – take a ‘speccie’ (spectacular mark)
2. Kicking – kick a supergoal
3. Handball – use your hands to create
4. Evasive Skills – dummy, weave and bounce
5. Defensive Skills – chase, tackle
The program is run on weekdays, usually straight after school at a central venue within easy walking distance of at least four Primary schools. Each school attends on their rostered day to run through the footyWILD BIG 5 skill stations in a 90 minute session, allowing each child to practise the BIG 5 skills again and again. The program runs for at least 20 weeks of the school year providing a well organized opportunity for boys and girls to play together.
footyWILD BIG 5 is run by local community-based volunteers who have been trained on how to deliver the program by AFL South Africa Development staff.
The emphasis is on:
- Inclusion not exclusion – anyone can join in no matter what the skill level – it is not about the ‘best players’… footyWILD BIG 5 is all about providing ‘opportunity for everyone’
- Mass participation – the program caters for thousands of boys and girls every day in a growing number of footyWILD centres across South Africa
- Regular physical activity – footyWILD BIG 5 provides a consistent weekly outlet for boys and girls to ‘be active’ in a non-threatening environment – it is not a ‘fly-by-night’ program
- Healthy lifestyles – using sport as a vehicle to deliver positive lifestyle messages in conjunction with partner NGOs
- Social cohesion – the program aims to engage the whole community by providing opportunity for young South Africans to volunteer as footyWILD coaches opening up a structured ‘pathway to employment’ with AFL South Africa
footyWILD Game Day is the extension program of footyWILD BIG 5 providing a structured environment for BIG 5 participants to put the skills they have learnt in to practice during a game - Game Day brings the BIG 5 to the playing field.
The Primary Schools that attend a particular footyWILD BIG 5 centre meet on a Friday afternoon at the footyWILD centre to play a series of footyWILD games under slightly modified rules. The fields are reduced in size, there are fewer players on the field than a standard game of footy with most teams fielding 16 players plus reserves and the length of the game is also reduced to allow more than one game to be played on a given day.
The emphasis is not on winning at this early stage of development but rather on:
- Team play – sharing the experience
- Sportsmanship – being fair
- Respect – for other players, teachers, volunteer coaches and umpires
footyWILD High is the competition program for South African High schools linked to a footyWILD centre. Each centre has two High schools to compliment the four Primary schools using the same resources. footyWILD High teams play against each other on weekly basis during the footyWILD season. Teams are managed and coached by teachers and local footyWILD volunteers. The games are played under the standard rules of Australian Football.
At both footyWILD Game Day and footyWILD High, players wear footyWILD bibs identifying the position that are playing in as either a defensive player (B for Backline), a mid-fielder (M for Midfield) or as an attacking player (F for Forward line).
The bibs are in the colours of the AFL Club supporting the particular Province, developing an awareness of the professional Australian Clubs amongst young South Africans.
footyWILD Extreme is the program that provides a regular competition structure for open age players, coaches, umpires and administrators.
Extreme players use the same venue and resources contained at the footyWILD centre maximizing the effectiveness of the footyWILD model.