Registrations open for 2024 AFL Sapphire Coast Season

With the off-season in full-swing, AFL Sapphire Coast clubs have begun opening their registrations for the upcoming 2024 season. Whilst not without its challenges, the 2023 competition concluded in style, with a fantastic finals series including some high quality football.

2024 should see minimal change to the competition structure, with minimal if any change to competition grades. There is some work being done around generating more opportunity for girls to play in standalone divisions, and plenty being done to support maximum alignment between teams which was unable to be achieved this year.

One major change is in the junior space, with the Under-9s competition now aligning to the strategic direction of the AFL National Participation Framework. The framework, which begins its phased rollout in 2024 with Under-9s will provide aligned modified rules at a national level and reduced team numbers to maximise on-field participation and touches of the football for the player.

Casey White, Competition Manager – South Coast spoke about the importance of early registrations.

“With so many grades and teams in the Sapphire Coast competition, it is important for clubs to have registrations open as soon as possible” White explained. “Early registrations help the club strategically target priority age groups as the season draws near and be really specific in their approach.

“The competition wasn’t delivered fully to how we wanted it to be this year, there were factors outside the league’s control. Now, we are back with a full complement of staff and are working hard in preparation for a fantastic 2024 season.

White’s reference to staffing is relevant, with former AFL Canberra Competition Coordinator Caitlin Ruuskanen appointed to the Regional Coordinator role which oversees the Sapphire and Central West competitions. Ruuskanen, originally from Broken Hill in far-west NSW, brings a wealth of experience in competition delivery, and will play a major role in the 2024 season.

Ruuskanen was thrilled to join the team, saying “It’s been great so far getting to know the different clubs in the Sapphire Coast region. There are a lot of common threads that have been coming from club representatives on how to improve the competition. I am excited to bring my experience and skill set to outwork those ideas and be a part of taking AFL in Sapphire Coast to a greater level in season 2024.

Additionally, following a post-season review of the competition structure, the junior competition will remain on Saturdays, aligned where possible with as many matches each day. With the growth of the competition meaning there will be times with insufficient daylight to fixture all games, clubs will come together and agree on alternate arrangements for these matches.

This process will occur during pre-season, to minimise the impact of fixture changes during the year. The league have acknowledged the importance of club consultation as part of the fixture development process, and will work alongside each club to create the best outcome for everyone.

Simon Smyth, AFL NSW/ACT Participation Projects Manager – ACT/Regional NSW was pleased to see such strong participation in the competition review from club delegates and current participants. “We received an outstanding response from the local community as we looked to make positive change to the Sapphire Coast” Smyth said.

“We know the importance of club alignment, and now know that the overwhelming majority still want Saturday football. There will be some amendments, with matches between north and south clubs no longer starting at 8am, and this will force flexibility with the fixture. However, these variations will be made well in advance of the fixture being published online, so there will be no surprises mid-season.”

There’s no better time to sign up and play AFL, so click here and search for your club to access their registration form.

Player registrations opening also mean umpiring registrations are also open. New umpires are encouraged to express interest via the form here and returning umpires can login to their Officials HQ account, to complete the registration process. All registered umpires will go in the draw to win fortnightly prizes between now and Round 1.