In recent years, the NFL has been growing in popularity around the world, and Australia has been no exception. However, a recent setback in the sport’s development occurred with the failure of the Gridiron Australia 2023 National Championships, which were scheduled to take place in Wollongong but ultimately fell through.
This unfortunate event raises questions about the future of American football in Australia and what steps need to be taken to ensure its continued growth.
The National Championships were set to be the first nationals event for the sport since before the pandemic as the 2020 championships were cancelled, bringing together teams from across the country to compete against one another.
However, the event’s organisers faced numerous challenges in getting it off the ground, including but not limited to states commitment to the event and the costs to players for the tournament. As a result, the event was ultimately canceled, leaving many players, coaches and volunteers disappointed.
So what now…
Gridiron New South Wales and Gridiron Queensland have organised state-of-origin-style matches with a best-of-three format for their women’s competitions. Matches will be played on Saturday, May 6th in NSW, Saturday, May 13th in QLD, and game 3 on Saturday, May 27th with the venue still to be determined.
Bring it on Sports have picked up the pieces left from the National Championships and have put together the Gridiron NSW State Challenge. This event will feature the men’s teams from NSW, QLD and the ACT who will all play each other once and the Under 20 teams from NSW and QLD will play each other 3 times at this event.
You can learn more about the Gridiron NSW State Challenge and buy tickets here.
The final game (We are currently aware of), is a match up in Queensland between the U20 teams of QLD and Victoria.
The failure of the 2023 National Championships is undoubtedly a setback for Gridiron Australia. Still, it is by no means a death knell for the sport, despite the challenges faced by GA, there is still a passionate community of players and coach and volunteers across the country who remain committed to the sport.
But with that being said there is so much work for GA CEO Wade Kelly and the GA Board, they have begun this process with a number of Town Hall style meetings with members of Gridiron Australia.
If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we will never be able to move forward. Since before covid the sport has been shrinking in Australia despite the growth of the popularity of the NFL in Australia. To blame the pandemic for the state of Gridiron in Australia is a complete cop out, all it did was acceleration the issues the sport was already experiencing.
Across the country we have seen teams and clubs sadly disappearing from the gridiron landscape, from a combination of lack of administrators, coaches, players or a combination of all three.
Let’s face it gridiron as a participation sport is miniscule when compared to most sports in Australia. I feel there are two things that both GA and the state bodies must turn their attention too.
First a massive recruitment drive, clubs need new players, coaches, administrators and volunteers let’s take advantage of the popularity of the NFL and bring these fans into the sport.
This will cost time and money but more players results in more money from registration fees so it is in everyone interest to do this.
Second pour time and money into skilling up and finding new coaches for this sport, these people are vital to a club and so often you see one or two coaches trying to do everything (And they are probably on the club committee too).
Well this is probably enough rambling from me for one day, what do you think GA needs to do?
Image by Touchdown Photography
GA National Championships cancelled