AFL Fiji eyes lift in game

FORMER Australian Football League Fiji development officer Simon Highfield believes the future of AFL Fiji is bright.

Highfield, who had been leading the sport for the past two months, returned to Australia last month.

“The future of AFL has never been brighter,” he said.

“We have an amazing team of development staff and administrators now driving the sport, and it will be exciting to stay involved in some capacity and hear about the growth of the sport in Fiji. It’s been a blessing to give something to Fiji, but Fiji has certainly returned the favour in droves,” he said in an interview.

“I’ve been working with AFL Fiji for two years now, having transitioned here from Solomon Islands AFL. My long history with the sport, coaching and development has given me many great memories, but those formed here, especially with the Fiji Tribe and Fiji Vonu national teams, will be something I treasure for a long time.

“With AFL Fiji, we have managed to grow a significant amount in that time, and has included many great programs across hundreds of schools and communities. It’s touching and refreshing to see how simple sport can affect people with such great joy and health.”

He said he was blessed to be part of AFL Fiji.

“We have also worked tirelessly with the Fiji National Sports Commission, and other national sporting bodies, to increase access to physical activity. It’s not our sole purpose to have people playing AFL, but rather receive education on the benefits of physical activity, and the effect it can have on health, nutrition and gender equality. It is here that we will see the greatest change,” he said.

“Our general talent pool has increased significantly, shown by our improved performances at International Cups and Oceania Cups.

“I am most excited by our young South Pacific representatives travelling across to Australia. We really need to nurture our grassroots talent, and giving them an opportunity to play at the highest level in Australia will not only improve the individual, but will improve the talent back here in Fiji too. We are only getting stronger, and soaring in one direction.”