How to start a University AFL Club

Objective of Starting a University Club

  • Growing the game of Australian Football in Canada and introducing Australian Football to a whole new demographic of fans.
  • Understand and develop pathways for getting people who’ve never seen Australian Football before to try the sport.
  • Provide an alternate pathway for university students interested in trying a new sport without the full club commitment.

Benefits of Starting a University club:

To the club:

  • Less restricted access to university facilities.
  • Access to the AFL Canada grants program.
  • Becoming more ingrained in the local community through local league and business connections.

To the individual:

  • Experience in starting a club/association.
  • Governance experience in a sports organization:
    • Experience in being an executive in a sports organization
    • Experience in building a constitution for a club/association.
  • Building a club in a positive social environment whilst enhancing connections in the local community.
  • Learning a new sport!

Perceived Barriers

  • Timing: The university year (September-April) does not match up with the general Footy season (May-October). Student’s time at the start of the Footy season is normally dedicated to exams. End of the Footy season can lack follow up as there is generally a break until indoor sessions start up.
  • Facility/Space: Renting a university gym or field space can be costly, these facilities are generally quite busy as well.
  • Promotion: Some universities will have restrictions on who can advertise on campus. It can be tricky to get the word out to the right audience without assistance.
  • People: A student-led clubs need an executive (numbers vary based on the individual university) that consist of students enrolled at that university.

Overcoming Barriers

  • Timing: Rather than fight the timing, take a unique approach to what a Football Club should look like. The focus can be on running events centered around Australian Football like viewing parties, come & try sessions and casual intramural games/tournaments. Any recruits who do end up at a local club should be seen as a terrific by-product, not the primary objective.
  • Promotion: Once your club is established there are various avenues for promotion depending on your University. Things like active promotion on-campus & websites, printing/marketing resources and media facilities are all generally available.
  • Facility/Space: Once clubs are established they will have more access to university facilities and in a lot of cases a preferential booking rate.

First Steps

  • Name: A great way to appear first on every list is to have ‘Australian Football Club, _________ University’ as the title of your club.
  • Logo: Provides some legitimacy toward the club, particularly if the university colors are used.
  • Email: Gmail is generally best to use for email as it allows access to google drive as well. This allows multiple people to access google drive documents and registrations that come in.
  • Registration Form: Used to record Members. Student ID’s are generally required from the student union to confirm your members, your University AFC will also need emails to communicate with members. These fields (at a minimum) in a google form that can be easily shared are generally the best ways to gather the information.
  • The First Members: Each University will have a number for the minimum amount of students required in your club to formalize it (ie, University of Calgary needs 20 members, University of Ottawa needs 10). USe your registration form at different events to register these member's details to confirm to the university.
  • Executive: Your University will require a number of students/positions to constitute an executive for your club. The minimum number and required positions vary according to university.
  • Constitution: To be formally recognized by your university, your club needs to create a constitution. Here is a template to utilize in creating your own.

Formalizing the Club:

  • Once you have all of the information outlined above, you should be ready to fill out a new club application. At minimum you’ll need:
    • Executive members
    • Minimum number of members
    • Club Constitution
  • Please check your individual university’s registration process and requirements. These are generally found on the Clubs and Association’s website or student section.

Further Members & First Event: 

  • Once you have your initial membership base you can utilize their networks to gain members.
  • Events should be a big part of your university Club (viewing parties, come and try days, etc)
  • The University of Calgary AFC have used the following ways to garner more members
    • Build partnerships with other groups to utilize their networks. U of Calgary AFC, partnered with the residents association to build out a come and try day on site.
    • Clubs Week: All universities will have some form of club week (although the terminology may be different). This is an opportunity to set up a booth and show off your University AFC. U of Calgary AFC have given away koozies to everyone who signs up via registration form.
    • Business Cards: As well as koozies in Clubs week, business cards with contact details and a QR code to the registration form were passed out
    • Viewing Party Enticements - U of Calgary shared VIP passes to the Calgary Kangaroos AFL Grand Final Party to anyone who met the requirements of signing up members.

Expenses & Grants Available

  • Expenses will be incurred for things like field rental, equipment, uniforms, marketing materials.
  • AFL Canada has financial assistance grants available specifically for new University clubs, as well as further general grants available to help with growing Footy in Canada.
  • Find more information on the grants program here.

For more information or assistance in starting a University AFC, please reach out to


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