© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Touchdowns over tries

Jack Ward
American football
American football is growing in Canterbury by 'kiwifying' the sport   Flickr

American Football Canterbury is attempting to change the stigma behind American football by 'kiwifying' the game.

New Zealanders often see American football as slow-paced and miss certain nuances associated with the sport.

To get more people involved, American Football Canterbury (AFC) plays 7-a-side gridiron, a shortened form like rugby 7s or Twenty 20 cricket.

The fast-paced nature and fewer players on the field make the game easier to understand and keeps people coming back.

Over the last two years, AFC has seen the fastest amount of growth in New Zealand and this is exemplified by its Facebook page which has gone from 800 to 1200 followers over that time.

AFC commissioner Brendan Mcgurk said the sport was struggling here because it was treated like rugby or soccer, where anyone can show up and think they know how to play already.

"If you are going to play the game, you need to play it right," he said.

Coupled with this is having a single programme rather than separate teams meaning everyone trains together and learns the same skills.

A lot of focus has gone into getting the next generation playing flag football (similar to rippa rugby). 

Coaching flag football to primary school students began four years ago with about 35 children involved. Last season this reached 100. 

The junior flag football program is now in 15 primary schools and AFC club is holding camps during the school holidays.

The season runs from August to March with a break over the New Year period.