AFL Queensland eyes facilities in regional tour

AFL QUEENSLAND chief executive officer Dean Warren's support for Fraser Coast Regional Council's controversial sports precinct is part of a state-wide push for better facilities in regional areas.

Warren visited members of the AFL community in both Maryborough and Hervey Bay on Tuesday, and took the chance to tour the grounds as part of a regional familiarisation tour which will continue in Bundaberg today.

He has only been in the role for five weeks, but Warren is already working towards increasing participation numbers.

While other parts of the state can host AFL games as part of a strategy to boost numbers, Fraser Coast has to stick to the grassroots.

"The Fraser Coast region is one of the only regions across the state that doesn't have the facilities capable of hosting an AFL game," he said.

"One of the things I wanted to do before Christmas was I wanted to get to all our regional areas to meet our regional affiliated leagues and clubs.

"It's just to get a sense of how they're travelling, they're challenges and some of the things that are working really well and some areas we can help them with."

The AFL's hugely successful Auskick program has seen junior skyrocket, and while those numbers remain high Warren said the challenge was to transition those participants to club footy.

To do that Warren said the facilities had to be of a standard that could not only cater to the extra players, but ensure they want to return.

"That's the challenge for us, and that's why we have to create quality environments at the club level," Warren said.

"We need great facilities and well-managed clubs, so when people transition they really enjoy it.

"Once they're there we have to retain them, and that's really important for us to work on the retention of our participants through quality environments and make sure we better support and nurture our volunteers who run it for us.

"We'll continue to run Auskick in schools and footy clubs, we'll continue to do the work of development staff at schools."

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