A new pilot programme will help schools increase the number of students playing AFL as part of the Abbott Government’s plan to get more kids fit and healthy through its Sporting Schools programme.

Minister for Health and Sport Sussan Ley said ‘Experience AFL’, the second of 12 pilot initiatives to be rolled out across Australia as part of the Sporting Schools programme, will aim to encourage more children to get involved with sport from a young age.

Ms Ley joined the AFL and the Australian Sports Commission to launch ‘Experience AFL’ and said the $100 million Sporting Schools programme was Australia’s largest school-based participation initiative for children.

“We know it’s vitally important that we help children right across Australia develop healthy and active lifestyles early in life,” Ms Ley said.

“This is particularly important considering one-in-four children are now overweight or obese.

“Sporting Schools is a key part of the Abbott Government’s plan to encourage more Australian children to develop a lifelong interest in sport.

“We want Australian kids to benefit from the positive health and well-being outcomes that come from an active lifestyle and especially through sport.

“This investment will help bring schools and sports together to provide a supportive environment that encourages participation for more than 850,000 Australian children.”

Each year more than 5,700 schools will be funded through Sporting Schools for practical delivery of sports activities that suits their local needs.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Simon Hollingsworth said it was important for sporting bodies to work together to develop a supportive environment for Australian children.

“We are excited to be partnering with Australia’s key participation sports to develop the Sporting Schools programme,” Mr Hollingsworth said.

“From tennis to gymnastics, athletics to cricket, we are committed to providing an environment for Australian school children to get involved in sport based activity before, during and after school. This participation at a young age is critical to help children develop a deep connection to sport and healthy and active lifestyles,”

Sporting Schools pilot programmes involving 12 sports will be rolled out over the next few months, with the programme to include more than 30 sports in total from July 2015.

The AFL program will be made available to all schools as part of the Sporting Schools programme once the current pilot is completed at the end of June.

More information on Sporting Schools can be found at www.sportingschools.gov.au