Contributed by: Brett Northey Sunday, May 01 2005 @ 10:46 pm ACST
Remember that these results are based on players having to have played at least four games in 2004, be it traditional 18 per side football, or 9-a-side metro league, or something similar. This includes juniors, so a lot of great work with juniors in Auskick-style clinics is not necessarily counted here. This survey is not meant to rate the efforts or potential of countries - each has their own unique circumstances and challenges. And note when you look at the ordered list of 30 countries, that there are around 200 other countries for which the total number of players is approximately zero, so all those listed here are further advanced in developing the game!
As has been explained in previous articles, we do not claim these results to be 100% accurate. But we do believe that in almost all cases, player numbers will be within around 10% (perhaps more variable in countries with only one or two teams). This should be more than adequate for comparing countries, or judging growth rates in the years ahead.
Counting teams has in many ways been more difficult than counting players. Especially in countries like the US, where the line between a large club and a league can be particularly blurred. Depending on opinion, we could have ended up crediting that country with anywhere from 20 to 50 teams. Still, the most important statistic, in our opinion, is the number of players actively involved in playing the game.
From the data, it is clear that NZ and PNG are the two stand-out countries, both with sufficient numbers that they are poised to become fully-fledged Australian Rules football nations. This is provided that the current trends are continued and consolidated. Interestingly, both these countries now have enough players to rival Tasmania and the Northern Territory, two traditional Aussie Rules regions of Australia that have relatively small populations. Both have provided many champions to Australian football, most recently in the national AFL. Both NZ and PNG must be close to producing a home grown AFL draftee of their own. AFL South Africa have projections of similar numbers in the next 10 years, and hopefully by then junior growth will have accelerated in a number of the other countries that have laid foundations.
It is sobering to note, however, that the number of players in Australia still far outstrips the entire total number from the rest of the world. In fact, only around 7% of the players in the world are playing outside of Australia. Another way of looking at it is that for every player outside of Australia, there are around 12 players in Australia.
So perhaps the next major numbers milestone will be when the "rest of the world" total starts to become comparable to the Aussie numbers. When might that be? Any attempt at estimating would require a baseline of data to extrapolate from - this census could provide one half of the data. Perhaps another census in a few years will give us an opportunity to make a realistic prediction. For now, an educated guess suggests that growth will have to accelerate even faster if the numbers are to keep up with Australia, where the expanding markets of New South Wales and Queensland are still providing rapid increases in player numbers. Nevertheless, a strong foundation is being laid in many countries, and one day perhaps we will see that provide a launching pad for an Aussie Rules explosion.
So finally, thank you once again to all those that have helped compile these statistics, and we hope you have found them interesting and useful reading. A link to a Census 2004 page has been added to our Resources section, for easy future reference. It will be very interesting to see how things have changed in a few years time.
|Country||Senior Teams||Senior Players||Junior Players||Total Players|
|Papua New Guinea||64||1920||8000||9920|
|Rank||Country||Senior Teams||Senior Players||Junior Players||Total Players|
|2||Papua New Guinea||64||1920||8000||9920|
Note: The figures for NZ and PNG are primarily dependent on data supplied by those countries. AFL criteria for measuring player numbers is more strict than those we used, and they more conservatively estimate numbers for NZ at around 1000 and PNG about 3000.