X marks the spot: tournament a hit





MOE Racecourse was a hive of activity last Wednesday, April 5, as more than 16 schools and 600 kids with their parents and teachers came to compete in the annual AFLX tournament.

The event, run by Lowanna College and AFL Gippsland, attracts schools from across the Valley to compete in a round-robin style tournament for fun, fitness and prizes.

AFL’s Junior X is played on a rectangle field. The game is tackle-free and highly social.

Children played two seven-minute halves, with finals on the cards and a big trophy up for grabs.

The tournament had a festive feel as parents and kids lined up for food and photos at the many vans and exhibitions at the tournament.

The event has grown over the years, and now hosts three different divisions including Boy’s Championships, Girl’s Championships and Boy’s Participation.

This year’s premiers were St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Warragul in the Girl’s division, while St Kieran’s Catholic Primary School, Moe won the Boy’s Championship, and Boy’s Participation division winners were Drouin South Primary School.

Speaking to Lowanna Sports Academy head coach and organiser of the event, Allan Chandler, he said: “this [tournament] is the third one that we’ve done. It’s an idea I had over COVID, so I went to AFL Gippsland and said I reckon we need something else where kids are playing small games of footy like we used to do at school.”

For anyone that knows Chandler, you would know that his biggest passions in life are footy and keeping kids active.

“We’re looking for ways to get kids in the sport, get them active and participating and my love has always been footy,” he said.

Lowanna’s Sports Academy students were umpiring, scoring and facilitating the games as part of their own schooling assessment criteria.

More than 65 Lowanna students were given that experience away from textbooks, managing those life skills needed when dealing with a sporting environment. Students learnt valuable lessons in organising the event and interacting with parents and teachers.

Chandler spoke of the growth of the tournament over the years.

“The actual event has gotten bigger every year. I think we started at 28 teams the first year and now we’ve got six marquees set up, a coffee van, and a food van making it a carnival atmosphere … I definitely haven’t seen this level of cars around the outside,” he said.

When asked if he thought events like these grew the game of football in the local community, Chandler said: “the first time we did it we had the girl’s division and out of that they started an under 12’s comp in West Gippsland … this was the starting point for these girls to start playing footy, so I think it definitely helps.”

Hawthorn AFLW players Sarah Perkins and Emily Bates came to support the event, saying how great it was to see so many young girls interested in the game.

Junior AFLX might soon become a Gippsland-wide event.

“We’re actually working with some schools who might be able to run [AFLX] in the future in other parts of Gippsland,” Chandler said.

Action: Moe South Street Primary faced off against Yallourn North Primary School in the AFLX tournament.
Smiles: Newborough East Primary Schools Kiarna and Olivia, Grade 6, enjoyed the fun-filled day.
Play: Jidivick Primary School vs Trafalgar Primary School.
Inspire: St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Newborough students with AFLW stars Emily Bates and Sarah Perkins who came to support the event.
Fun: Newborough East Primary School girl’s team take on St Vincent De Paul Primary School Morwell.