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American Football in NZ is an amateur sport played by clubs across the country. Find out more below.

Questions about starting to play American Football

American Football in NZ is an amateur sport played mostly in Clubs across the country.  There are no professional athletes in NZ and the NFL does not support the sport here.  We are like all other amateur sports in NZ and rely on volunteers to run clubs and coach teams.

 

Following are answers to the frequently asked questions posed by people interested in the sport.

 

Quick Links:

  1. Safety and Concussion

  2. Who can play

  3. Do I have to join a club

  4. Where is the game played

  5. Do women play

  6. What age groups play

  7. Are there pathways for elite athletes 

  8. How does someone get a scholarship 

  9. Want to start coaching and officiating 

Safety and Concussion

Safety in any contact sport is a consideration for anyone thinking about participating. In American Football, like any other sport, accidents happen.  We have taken all practical steps necessary to keep out players safe when they play and have the following processes and procedures in place:

 

  • Each club is required to have qualified "Safe Tackle" coaches.  The qualification is valid for 3 years after which time the coach must undergo re-qualification.  The qualification includes concussion awareness training

  • Player Safety reporting.  A report is filed on each competition game played across the county.  Each injury is recorded and if it is anything else apart form a minor injury then a follow up report is required.

  • If a concussion occurs the player must follow the concussion protocols in order to return to play.

  • Each club coach must go through a concussion refresher starting in 2022.

  • In 2022, 20% of players in each club were required to go thorough the concussion refresher course.  By the end of the 2022/23 season 40% of players would have completed the concussion refresher course.

Who can play?

All clubs in New Zealand play Flag Football (non contact American Football) and this is open to men, women, girls and boys.

Tackle Football (as played in the NFL and college Football Leagues) is played in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.  Contact your local club to find out what is available for you.

Do I have to join a club?

Most of the games are played through the clubs apart from in Dunedin and at Rongomai Park, Flat Bush, Auckland.

If you want to host a have-a-go event for your school, community or group than can be arranged by contacting NZAFF directly - email here.

Where is the game played?

There are clubs in:​

 

Click on the link to see the details of the clubs.

 

There are also community competitions and have-a-go opportunities:

  • Friday nights at Rongomai Park, Flat Bush, Auckland - contact Dan here.

  • Sundays during the first semester at North Ground in Dunedin.  Facebook link here.

  • The Tauranga Tridents club has a scrimmage on Sundays - link here.

Do women play?

The only league for women wanting to play tackle football is in Auckland.

Flag Football for women is available in local competitions in "open" grades where both genders and any age group can play.

The National Club Flag Football Championships includes a women's grade and there is a national team for Flag Football working towards competing in the World Flag Football Championships held every two years (even numbered years - 2022, 2024, 2026 etc).

Contact your local club to find out what is available for you.

What age groups play?

In Auckland, in a normal season, there is football for youth, junior and premier men and a women's grade.

In Wellington there is only men's tackle football but flag football is available for everyone in an "open" grade.

In Christchurch there are competitions for most age groups.

In Tauranga, Hawkes Bay and Nelson the competitions are "open" so any age group can play.

Are there pathways for elite athletes?

There is a national team campaign for men's and women's Flag Football. There may be, from time to time, national teams for tackle football. There are players that find opportunities to play in Europe on contracts. Some of our players get opportunities in the International Player Pathways generally by being based overseas. For more information look at the Pathways section here.

How does someone get a scholarship?

Getting an opportunity to get a scholarship to a College in the USA for American Football is not an easy thing to do.

Follow this link to more information - here.

Want to start coaching or officiating?

 

Community Coach

A community coach in NZ will be coaching Flag Football.  Tackle football is only played through clubs.

There are a lot of Flag coaching videos available on YouTube for coaches interested in coaching a community group.

NZAFF does not have a Community level Flag qualification.

Club Coach

Coaches who would like to coach at club level will need to have the agreement of the club to coach or help coach a team.

NZAFF uses the USA Football qualifications.  More information can be found on the Coaches page here.

Community Referee

A community referee will be involved in Flag football.

To coach a tackle game the official needs to contact AFOA (American Football Officials Aotearoa).

If you want more information go to the official's page, here.

Competition Referee

NZAFF and AFOA use the Australian Gridiron Officials qualification frame work to train and qualify officials.

Access to this is through AFOA and if you are interested go to the official's page, here, and contact AFOA.