The National Schoolboy Championships were inaugurated in Melbourne in 1923. Victoria were the first Championship winners with New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia the other foundation participants.
Western Australia and Tasmania entered for the first time in 1925 whilst the Australian Capital Territory have played several short periods since the early 1950’s and have participated currently since 1977 when Hobart was the venue. The Northern Territory entered in 1974 when the Championship was played in Brisbane and the 1998 Championship was their 25th Carnival. From 1974 to 2001 all States and Territories have participated in the Championships except Tasmania who missed from 1991 to 1995 & 1998 to 2013, South Australia 1998 to 2007 & 2009 to 2011 and Western Australia 1998 to 2000.
There have been two breaks in the competition continuity with an outbreak of infantile paralysis in 1937 and the Second World War the reasons. The carnival has continued unbroken since 1947. First awarded in 1931, the J.L.Williams Medal for the Championship Best and Fairest perpetuates the memory of the late Jack Williams, a Victorian teacher who battled for the creation and recognition of the National Schoolboys’ Championships.
Of the 44 12 and Under Championships conducted 41 have ended with outright winners, with one tie; the 1986 and 1994 Exchanges finished in three way ties. Outright winners have been South Australia and Victoria 20 times and Northern Territory once. Victoria (3), South Australia (2), Queensland (2) and Northern Territory (1) have been involved with ties. The Host State has won or tied 10 of the 44 Championships conducted.
Of the 85 15 and Under Championships conducted (1956 and 1957 Championships having Senior and Junior Divisions and 1996 and 1997 having Division One and Division Two) 80 have ended with outright winners, 7 with ties and the 1956, 1973 and 1987 Championships finishing in three way ties. Outright winners have been Victoria 48 times (including Victorian Country 5 and Victorian Metropolitan 5), Western Australia 15 times, South Australia 56 times, New South Wales 4 times, Tasmania 3 times and Queensland 3 times. Victoria (5), Western Australia (4), Queensland (2), New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory (each 1) have been involved with ties. The host State has won or tied in only 24 of the 85 Championships conducted.
The Australian Secondary Schools’ National Football Council (A.S.S.N.F.C.) has been a leader in Inter-State competitions, and many innovative ideas have been adopted by the Australian School’s Sports Council (ASSC) then School Sport Australia (SSA) during the past 85 years. Perhaps the years of the greatest expansion began in 1978. This was the year that the Commonwealth Bank became the major sponsor. We have seen many new ideas introduced to our Championships. These have been possible because of the funds supplied by the Commonwealth Bank. It had also been much easier on our Host Associations, as our sponsorship funds helped to ease the costs of conducting our Championships.
In 1996 and 1997 the Championship was played as an Under 16 competition organised and funded by Football Development Foundation in each State under the umbrella of the AFL as the parent body. In 1998 School Sport Australia reverted back to the original concept of an Under 15 Championship for compulsory age students without any financial support. The Championship was funded by the participants. From 1999 -2103 Victoria fielded two teams: a metropolitan and country team. In 1999 the first Combined Primary and Secondary Football Carnival was held in Canberra, ACT, where student umpires from participating States and Territories officiated at the Championships for the first time.
From 2002, the A.S. McLean Medal was awarded to the best umpire (field, boundary or goal) who officiates in the Championships. The medal is named in honour of Alan McLean, a Life Member and former National Secretary of the ASSNFC for 18 years and who had been involved in umpiring for over 34 years. The Championships which combines the 12 & Under and 15 & Under competitions was formally named ‘The School Sport Australia Australian Rules Football Carnival’ in 2005.
In 2008 it was renamed ‘The School Sport Australia Australian Football Championships’. Hosted in Melbourne, the 2008 Championships marked the 150 Years Celebration of the commencement of Australian Football. South Australia who had not participated since 1997 rejoined the 15 and Under Championship. For the first time in the Championships history, four female student umpires officiated and every game was fully officiated (field, boundary and goal) by student umpires.
In 2009 the first 16 years and under Girls Invitational competition was played between Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia in Maroochydore Queensland.
The Richard G. Newman Shield was inaugurated in 2010 and recognises one 12 & Under Team, which extols the virtues of sportsmanship, outstanding ambassadorial aptitudes and commitment which Richard upheld throughout his long association with the School Sport Australia Australian Football 12 & Under Championship. The Shield is named in honour of Richard Newman, a SSA Service & Honour Award recipient and former Manager & Coach of SAPSASA for 17 years.
2011 saw the Inaugural School Sport Australia Girls 16 years and under Championship held in Canberra, ACT with five member bodies represented and an invitational team from AFL NSW/ACT. The Girls Championship was won by Victoria.
The 2012 Championships were hosted by South Australia. This coincided with the SAPSASA Centenary Celebrations which recognised their commencement with Australian Football in 1912. This was South Australia’s first hosting since 2004 and they had representation in all competitions.
In 2013 the Schoolgirl’s Player of the Championship Medal was awarded to the player adjudged to be the fairest and best in the Championship in Darwin, Northern Territory. The first A.S.S.N.F.C. All Australian Girls Football team was selected from participants at the Championships.
The 2014 Championships were hosted by New South Wales. This coincided with the NSWCHSA & NSWPSSA 125 Year Anniversary celebrations which recognised their service to the State of NSW.