Historic Birchgrove Oval hosts official AFL Auskick launch

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge was the dramatic backdrop to the NSW launch of the 2018 AFL Auskick season as it kicked off at Birchgrove Oval on Thursday March 15.

Local schools and footy clubs were out in force as players from both the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants joined in the day-long festivities and shared some of their football wisdom with the kids.

Billed as a ‘Festival of Football’, participants from Birchgrove and Orange Grove Public Schools, and clubs from Drummoyne, Glebe, Leichhardt and Newtown to name a few, enjoyed fun footy games, activities and plenty of questions and photos with their AFL heroes.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said the Auskick launch and the return of Balmain Australian Football Club to its historic home of Birchgrove Oval was part of Council’s ongoing efforts to grow Aussie Rules participation in the inner west.

“I promised before the last Council election to bring AFL back home to Birchgrove Oval and have delivered on that promise,” he said.

“We have now installed AFL posts at the ground, so that kids can have a kick whenever they want.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to build on our partnerships with the AFL, local footy clubs and the community to see Australian Rules expand and thrive throughout the inner west,” said Mayor Byrne.

Sam Graham, CEO of AFL NSW/ACT, said participation across the Inner West has increased significantly, with the four junior clubs in the area experiencing eight per cent growth in the last year.

“We thank and look forward to working closely with the Inner West Council to continue to provide facilities such as Birchgrove Oval to support the growing demand for our code,” said Graham.

Mayor Byrne recently announced that Birchgrove Oval will host up to three Balmain AFC home games in 2018 after Council reached agreement to further share the ground between multiple sporting codes.

“Birchgrove Oval is the birthplace of rugby league in Australia, and league will always be played at the ground,” said Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.

“Allowing Balmain AFC to play up to three games on the ground this season will enable one of the Sydney AFL’s foundation clubs to finally return to the peninsula.

“Birchgrove will continue to be shared by multiple local sporting clubs and this arrangement will allow the maximum number of local people to play at such an historic venue,” he said.

“I also want to make sure that there is a pathway for the hundreds of local kids who are playing AFL to do so in their own community, at beautiful Birchy,” said Mayor Byrne.
Balmain AFC president John Little said the club is excited to be returning to Birchgrove Oval.

“Not only does this bring our football club home, it brings us back to the local community,” he said.

“Being part of the community is of significant importance to us, strengthening our commitment, supporting local junior development and growth of the game, and enjoying the support of local residents.

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Page last updated: 20 Nov 2018