SANFL proudly manages the most remote Australian Rules football competition in the nation, the SANFL APY League. Spanning 200,000 square kilometres in remote South Australia and Northern Territory, the APY League is an integral part of SANFL’s Indigenous football program.

With 10 football and softball teams competing throughout the APY Lands, as well as the Uluru-based Mutitjulu Cats who joined the competition in 2018, the League provides not only physical activity but also a vital social interaction among communities.

SANFL has managed the Federally-funded APY League for the past 11 years. In 2018, approximately 400 players – more than 80 per cent of the male population of the APY Lands aged 17-35 – participated in this Indigenous football competition. The female softball competition saw 250 participants represented in the 10-team competition. This not only has the benefits of promoting healthier, more active lifestyles for the participants, but also has stimulated a great local following and associated social interaction among communities.

The SANFL APY League also supports Federal Government strategies in remote communities aimed at:

  • Improving school attendance rates
  • Increasing community education outcomes
  • Reducing risk of substance abuse
  • Improving and increasing access to sports

Another successful initiative is the annual Don McSweeny Aboriginal Lands Cup played between the APY Lands and the MT Lands in Adelaide. This program also is delivered by SANFL through its Indigenous football development program. An extension to this is the development, mentoring and accreditation of Indigenous umpires, coaches and team assistants, with opportunities for casual employment within the regional Indigenous leagues.

A major success emanating from this annual football challenge is the significant increase in sporting development across Aboriginal lands in SA. SANFL has led this development, together with support from the Adelaide-based AFL clubs and the Woodville-West Torrens and Norwood football clubs whose regional SANFL zones include the APY and MT Lands respectively.

 

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