Primary School Ambassador of the Year Darryl shows Howe it’s done

Darryl Howe has only worked at St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown for two years, but the PDHPE teacher is already having a big impact on the students’ sporting experiences. His work on the AFL program earned him AFL NSW/ACT’s Primary School Ambassador of the Year for 2021.

St Gregory’s is a co-ed independent school from K-12 with around 330 students in its junior school. Thanks largely to Howe’s interest in the game, AFL is now part of the interschool sports program and grade sport classes. It also allows AFL NSW/ACT to come to the school on Friday afternoons in Term 1 to run footy clinics for any of the students.

Campbelltown is not an area synonymous with AFL, but the students of St Gregory’s are tearing it up on the field. At a 2021 Paul Kelly Cup regional carnival, the school won the boys competition and were runners-up in the girls. Its reserves boys and girls teams made the semi-finals, showing the school’s depth.

Success on field is one thing, but Howe is equally impressed with the students’ enthusiasm to pull on a pair of boots and chase after a Sherrin. “The large amount of students participating at our AFL trials wishing to represent the College has been extraordinary,” he said.

In fact, around 50 St Gregory’s students played Paul Kelly Cup – that’s about 50 per cent of the school’s eligible cohort.

“There’s a lot of interest and by exposing them to the Paul Kelly Cup, the interschool sport we have on Wednesday, and the AFL coming in for clinics and grade sport lessons is allowing kids to become more passionate and possibly playing on the weekend,” said Howe.

Howe is getting other teachers on board the AFL phenomenon, coaxing them down to local AFL 9s tournaments and teaching them the finer points of the game. He’s also upskilling teachers at rival schools by equipping them with the knowledge to umpire matches, meaning the interschool competition is less reliant on AFL NSW/ACT to provide umpires.

It’s this level of consideration to the overall independence of the game in south-west Sydney that has seen Darryl Howe achieve the Primary School Ambassador of the Year Award in 2021. Congratulations Darryl!