About Game Development

The purpose of AFL Cape York Ltd is to enhance the life skills of Indigenous Australians and increase the participation in sport through the AFL Game.

In 1997, the National AFL in conjunction with Rio Tinto Mining set aside a small investment of $25,000.00 for development programs in Far North Queensland. The purpose was to visit remote and isolated Indigenous Communities of the Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait to encourage AFL Participation. Despite early success, there were no ongoing opportunities.

In October 1999, the AFL conducted a 13-day tour of the region to evaluate the prospects of further advancing the AFL Cape York Program and to get a better understanding of the logistics of the region. Following this evaluation, in early 2000, AFL Queensland recommend to the National AFL that there be a placement of an Indigenous Development Officer to service the remote indigenous communities of the region. Thankfully, the AFL agreed with the recommendation and in April of 2000, AFL Cape York employed a well-known Indigenous man to service the regions communities through Sport & Recreation while mentoring the youth through life’s journey.

The focus of AFL Cape York’s program has changed considerably since those early community visits in 2000. Since those humbling beginnings the program has grown from not just encouraging AFL participation but more importantly offering AFL as a vehicle to create personal and community change. AFL Cape York staff encourage participants to go to school, stay away from substance abuse and other drugs and discuss the negative affect violence is having in communities.

To complement our lifestyle program, we have been able to develop a comprehensive participation pathway for both boys and girls at primary and secondary schooling levels.

Since 2003, AFL Cape York have been a strong advocate for Indigenous Youth. The vision at AFL Cape York, has been to develop constructive engagement programs focusing on education, health and civic well-being with Australian Rules Football being the vehicle to access remote Communities of Cape York, Torres Strait and Gulf Savannah. AFL Cape York has been focused on Indigenous advancement by pushing the boundaries and wanting to make a difference purely for the betterment of Indigenous people, that have limited opportunities.

Today, our region covers over 400,00km2 across land and sea from remote communities located in the Cape York Peninsula, Torres Strait Islands and Gulf Savannah Regions. AFL Cape York has direct face-to-face contact with 37 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Remote Communities. Due to boarding school arrangements in the Torres Strait (Tagai State College), we can connect to additional Outer Island people and their Communities.

Annually, AFL Cape York engages over 12,000 Participants face-to-face through our Game Development Department via Sport Education (In-School), Auskick (After-School), Kick&Catch, Crusader Cups (Development & Representative Pathways), Community Engagement Sessions and Coach Education Programs.

AFL Cape York through our Programs work very hard to support and drive leadership aspirations amongst participants and communities. It is the goal of AFL Cape York to demonstrate appropriate leadership and support those who wish to follow in the same footsteps and to become a positive role model in their own communities.

AFL Cape York Community Engagement philosophy centres on activities that promote social justice, education, health and foster a strong sense of community spirit.

AFL Cape York through our Programs work very hard to support and drive leadership aspirations amongst participants and communities. It is the goal of AFL Cape York to demonstrate appropriate leadership and support those who wish to follow in the same footsteps and to become a positive role model in their own communities.

Leadership is as much about what happens off the field as what happens on it.

AFL Cape York Game Development Program is based on the following core values: Responsibility, Respect & Pride – in yourself (individual), family, school and communities.

AFL Cape York is more than just football, it’s about providing an opportunity to those who are less fortunate – we are providing them with a chance to be recognised, noticed and love a successful life.


AFL Cape York’s purpose is to enhance the life skills of Indigenous Australians and increase participation in sport through the AFL Game. We want to be the best community service provider in the Cape York, Gulf and Torres Strait Region. We want to make an impact.

In Game Development, we pride ourselves on being a professional organisation that is COMMITTED, CONSISTENT and COMPASSIONATE in our delivery and interactions with the Community.

Joshua Hanlon – Development Manager

Josh has been a part of the AFL Cape York game development team since 2016, and is very passionate about delivering our programs throughout the Far North Queensland remote region. Josh has coached the AFL Cape York Under 16 Crusader team, competing at the country Queensland championships, which have resulted in two (2) championship titles. Josh is committed to furthering his knowledge on-and-off the field, undertaking study to become a Level 2 AFL Coach and a Diploma of Business. Being raised in Far North Queensland Josh is very excited to see the engagement and enjoyment of junior football continue to grow.

Matt Mellahn – Development Coordinator

Matt grew up in Country Victoria with football always being a massive part of his life. His sense of commitment, mateship and healthy attitude to fitness, can all be traced back to the sport of AFL, guided by his past coaches and teammates, shaping the person he is now, in a huge way. Matt has been an enthusiastic Program Assistant in the Gold Coast for the past few years and has loved every minute of it. Matt has achieved his Level 1 AFL Coaching accreditation and Certificate III in Health and Fitness. His main motivation is seeing kids of all backgrounds getting involved in the game of AFL at all levels. After eagerly awaiting a chance to take his involvement further, he took up an opportunity to join the AFL Cape York game development team at the beginning of 2018.


Shelby Grant – Program Coordinator “On the Move With Deadly Foods”

Shelby has lived and worked in the APY Lands in Central Australia for the last 3 years, delivering sports programs in schools to remote indigenous students, using sport as the tool, to encourage positive social behaviours, increase school attendance and live healthy lifestyles. Alongside school sports programs, Shelby also delivered and coordinated the Far North West Sports League football and softball competition across the APY Lands.

Jake O’Halloran – Officer  “On the Move With Deadly Foods”

Jake has grown up with footy being a big part of his life living in Brisbane. Jake worked with AFL Queensland Brisbane North for 2 years as a Fulltime Program Officer then moving to Cairns to continue his work with AFL Cape York being a Program Officer with On the Move with Deadly Foods. Jake has been successful in achieving a Diploma in Business, Cert 4 in Sport & Rec and being a Level 1 accreditation AFL Coach.


Novella Dennis – Officer  “On the Move With Deadly Foods”

A Cairns local Novi graduated School in 2016 from St Monica’s Catholic College and began worked with AFL Queensland in 2017and 2018 as a Program Leader.  in 2019 started AFL Sports Ready Traineeship studying a Certificate lll in Sports and Recreation. She holds Level one AFL Coaching accreditation and  has 3 Years of Senior Women’s football at North Cairns Tigers. Novi is passionate about working with kids and providing a good role model.

The AFL Cape York Game Development Team is responsible for growing and developing Australian Football and striving to ensure the game of AFL is a way of life for every community.

AFL Cape York Ltd
45 - 61 Tills Street, Westcourt
Cairns 4870

PO Box 143, Manunda 4870
Phone: (07) 4054 5199
Fax: (07) 4054 5399

ABN: 67106529257

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