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MAY 2011

EDITION 60 / The official magazine of The AFL Players’ Association


BLAKE & SELWOOD join the board


he final siren of the 2010 AFL season signified different things for different players. For some it was elation, for others the end of distinguished careers. With the 2011 season underway it’s a chance to reflect on the changes within our organisation and look to the year ahead. We have welcomed a new President and Vice President in Luke Power and Luke Ball and farewelled our former leader Brett Burton. Adam Selwood and Jason Blake have been elected to our Board of Directors taking their opportunity with the departure of Director Ash Hansen who along with Brett Burton retired a Director at the conclusion of his AFL career. We recently held our Annual General Meeting which was well attended by Board members, delegates and many club captains. This meeting provided the leaders of our game with an opportunity to discuss the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement and share their views on a variety of other topics. After our AGM, we held our first ever AFL Players’ BBQ on the rooftop of Austereo in South Melbourne. With players and the media

in attendance, it provided an opportunity to gather in an informal environment, and sought to strengthen the relationship between our members and the media. CBA negotiations have commenced with the AFL and we have never been in a stronger position to advance claims of our members. Our plan, For the Players, For the Game is founded in significant research and player consultation and we look forward to securing a partnership with the AFL which sets new benchmarks for AFL players across this country. And finally, we saw the generosity of our members, who dug into their own pockets, donating $150,000 from the AFL Players’ Charity Trust to the Queensland Flood Appeal. On behalf of the Association, I would like to thank all players for their contributions. As Anna Bligh said in a recent letter to me. “The recovery process will happen all the faster because of the generosity of community minded organisations such as yours. The Queensland Government appreciates your willingness to assist Queenslanders in this time of need and thanks you for giving back to the community.”

Regards, Matt Finnis

AFL PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION Contacts Sports House Level 2, 375 Albert Road Albert Park Vic 3206 P. (03) 9926 1344 F. (03) 9926 1350 E. Chief Executive Officer Matt Finnis Office Manager / Executive Assistant Jo Rafferty Reception & Administration Natalie Holmes General Manager – Player Relations Ian Prendergast Legal Services Consultant Bernie Shinners Player Relations Coordinator Braden Stokes General Manager – Finance & Administration John Hogan Indigenous & Financial Services Coordinator Cory McGrath General Manager – Marketing & Commercial Christine Finnegan Events Manager Leanne French Public Affairs Manager Ben Hart Communications Officer Heath Evans



Luke Power..........................................Brisbane

Adelaide.....................................Ben Rutten

Luke Ball.........................................Collingwood Adam Goodes........................................ Sydney Robert Murphy......................Western Bulldogs Matthew Pavlich................................ Fremantle Drew Petrie.............................North Melbourne Brad Sewell........................................ Hawthorn Adam Selwood................................West Coast Jason Blake...........................................St Kilda Matt Finnis........ AFL Players’ Association CEO Simon Madden.......Past Player Representative

Brisbane...................................Brent Staker Carlton................................. Brock McLean Collingwood..........................Harry O’Brien Essendon.............................. Henry Slattery Fremantle................................ Paul Duffield Geelong..................................Jimmy Bartel Hawthorn................................... Xavier Ellis North Melbourne............. Andrew Swallow Melbourne......................Matthew Warnock Port Adelaide........................... Jay Schultz Richmond........................... Daniel Jackson St Kilda.............................. Leigh Montagna Sydney..................................... Jude Bolton Western Bulldogs.................... Will Minson West Coast............................... Brett Jones



General Manager – Player Development Steve Alessio Player Development Regional Manager Brett Johnson Player Development Regional Manager Scott Lucas Player Development Regional Manager Claire Mitchell-Taverner Wellbeing Services Manager Matti Clements Indigenous & Multicultural Manager Nadia Taib Player Development Administrator Jennifer Ashton

What have we done for you lately? 01

In December, the Player Retirement Account distributed $7,362,500 between 108 players who were retired or delisted in 2009 – an average of $68,170 for each player.


We held our annual Grand Final lunch at Zinc at Federation Square which raised more than $120,000 to underpin our Geoff Pryor Grants Scheme for past players.


We celebrated the achievements of retiring players at the 2010 Madden Medal event with over 300 guests in attendance witnessing Brett Kirk take the coveted honour.


We held our biennial Indigenous Camp with 69 players in attendance for the five day get-together in Sydney. Players, staff and club Player Development Managers were in attendance to enhance the understanding of indigenous culture across the AFL.


We held our annual Induction Camp for the 2011 AFL draftees with over 120 new members spending two days at the Melbourne Cricket Ground engaging in a range of education and induction workshops to ensure they are prepared for their transition into the AFL.


We have negotiated improved travel standards for players with the AFL under enhancements to the new Virgin deal.


We held our Captain’s Meeting to brief the leaders on our progress with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The meeting allowed captains to voice their thoughts on the upcoming negotiations and other issues.



We assisted players with a range of issues after the 2010 season, including injury claims and contractual advice. In addition, we continue to support players in relation to various matters including defamatory and fraudulent online content, code of conduct breaches and independent agreements.


We held our first AFL Players’ BBQ with our Directors, Delegates and Captains in attendance, as well as key media figures, to strengthen the relationship between players and the media.

We published our first ever Wellbeing and Development Report which reports back to the AFL industry and wider community on the activities of the Association’s Player Development department.


We are developing a new AFL Players’ Association website which will provide better advocacy of player interests and increase our standing in the digital space.

We completed our Accredited Agent forums across Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland updating Accredited Agents on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Player Development changes and other industry issues.


The Turf Advisory Group has established a weekly player feedback system to help gather information on playing surfaces throughout the competition.


Our Player Relations Department provided advocacy for our members in relation to termination and other employment issues and defended our member’s right to ensure the correct procedures were followed in these cases.



We have launched a new authentication program for player memorabilia which will ensure the value, authenticity and integrity of these products is maintained to protect players from unauthorised products entering the market.


We have completed our club visits updating players on the Player Development Program restructure and CBA negotiations.


Our Next Coach program has achieved a 100% success rate with all those who have completed the program now in coaching roles – the most recent graduates being Simon Goodwin, Steven King and Shane O’Bree.




risbane Lions midfielder Luke Power is now well-established as the new President of the AFL Players’ Association. Luke became a Delegate in 2001 and then joined the Board in 2007. He has been elected to the role by the Association’s Directors and has already shown he is a great leader ready to carry on the legacy from former president Brett Burton. He will be assisted by Collingwood midfielder Luke Ball who has been elected as Vice President. Luke become a Delegate in 2006 and joined the Board in 2007.

10th Anniversary of Next Goal


he Association and AFL Sportsready recently celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Next Goal Program, which continues to assist AFL players transition successfully into life after football. Guest speakers included Danny Southern and Chris Heffernan who both participated in the inaugural year of the Next Goal program and have now moved onto successful career post footy. Danny is now an adventure tourist guide based in Cairo with Intrepid Tours while Chris is a senior consultant with Ernst & Young in Melbourne.



Hogan celebrates ten years


he Association’s longest serving staffer John Hogan has celebrated a decade of service to the organisation. During his time as General Manager of Finance and Administration, John has overseen the growth of the Player Retirement Account and played a crucial role in developing this significant benefit for players who leave the game. Association CEO Matt Finnis said John has also been involved in four separate CBA negotiations and plays a crucial role in negotiating the financial aspects of these complex agreements. “The role he plays behind the scenes in finance, auditing and compliance have been significant in keeping the organisation on sure footing over a period of significant growth,” Finnis said.



A new President

Agents board revokes accreditation


he AFL Players’ Association believes its members should be represented by player agents who uphold the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. In announcing last month that agent for Ricky Nixon’s accreditation had been revoked for two years, Association CEO Matt Finnis acknowledged Nixon’s positive impact on the industry he helped pioneer. But he said the Agent Accreditation Board was correct in finding Nixon had made serious errors of judgment that severely affected his ability to serve his clients. This is the first time in its history that the Board had revoked an agent’s accreditation. AAB Chair Ian Prendergast said the Board acted with integrity and professionalism in upholding the highest standards of fairness and due process despite unprecedented public pressure and scrutiny to deal with the matter immediately.

Virgin update




he AFL Executive have discussed and responded to the proposals put forward at the AFL Players’ Directors and Delegates Conference by Adam Selwood regarding player air travel with Virgin. With this revised position, players have achieved a number of improved conditions that were not contained in the original deal. The two biggest wins are the granting of access to Virgin’s Velocity Lounges and better provisions around seating arrangements (based on a model that will see clubs given increased resources, buy either more premium seating, more ‘spare’ seats, or a mixture of both). Players’ President Luke Power said players were very happy with the improvements. “Virgin and the AFL are to be congratulated for the level of service being provided to players,” said Power.

• •

• • • •



Nathan LovettMurray announced as Emerging Leader



ongratulations to Brad Moran who has married Alicia Smith. His Adelaide teammate Brad Symes has married Danielle Strong. Both were married in October 2010. Andrew Mackie married Georgia Clark in January. Please let us know if anyone from your club has had a child or tied the knot by emailing Heath Evans at

ongratulations to the following current players: Nick Maxwell and partner Erin, welcomed their first child, Milla Eve Maxwell, on the 18th January. Lewis Jetta and partner Jessica had a boy, Lewis Oliver, on the 24th December. Mark and Aleesa Seaby had a girl, Eva, on the 19th January. Lindsay Thomas and partner Hannah had a girl, Hollie, in September. Drew Petrie and his wife Nicole had a boy, Jack, in October. Todd Goldstein and partner Kirsty had a baby girl, Olivia, in October. David Hale and his wife Teresa had a girl, Mia, in October. Brady Rawlings and wife Lea had a boy, Conor, in January. Luke Power and wife Anita welcomed a baby girl, Mae Florence Power in March. Sam Mitchell and wife Lyndall had twin girls; Emmerson Grace and Scarlett Grace.

AFL players contribute to Flood Relief Appeals


arlier this year AFL Players’ Association President Luke Power appeared on Sunrise to announce that AFL players would donate $150,000 from their match fees to the Queensland flood relief appeal. The donation will be drawn from the AFL Players’ Association Charity Trust, which players contribute $25 to every time they play a senior match. The Association’s psychological support network, usually provided only to players, was also offered to players’ immediate family

members in recognition of the severity of the disaster. This received a great response from the public and Queensland Government. Special thanks also goes to players who assisted us through social networking channels such as Twitter and retweeted our messages to help spread awareness. The decision to give $150,000 was in line with other significant AFL Players’ donations to the Asian Tsunami and Black Saturday relief appeals.


athan Lovett-Murray was announced as one of the two Emerging Leaders as part of the Emerging Leadership Program at the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership luncheon. Nathan has combined his AFL playing career with many powerful community projects including Indigenous Sports Management, Payback Records and Bunjil’s Business. The Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership assists those with a unique vision for improving the social, economic and emotional well-being of Indigenous communities in Victoria.




Loss of a champion In March, the players lost one of the founding members of their Association, Des Meagher. The Association’s first Secretary and a champion of the Hawthorn Football Club, he was a visionary both on and off the field.


Players mourn the death of Jill Lindsay The AFL Players’ Association was deeply saddened by the passing of Jill Lindsay, who recently lost her battle with cancer. Jill dedicated over 40 years of service to the AFL, and ended her career as the Grounds Operations Manager, and as Luke Power reflects she will be sadly missed.


s a player it is always clear when you are about to be involved in one of the biggest games on the AFL calendar – there is more media coverage, larger crowds and a real sense of anticipation and atmosphere in the air. Another indicator was that behind the scenes whether you were in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide or Perth, you would always, without fail come across a lady by the name of Jill Lindsay.

I worked out, from always seeing her at the blockbusters, her importance and value to the AFL. Although my conversations with Jill rarely had the opportunity to extend past a pleasant “Hi” and “How are you?”, (as I was playing), I was well aware of who she was and her contribution to the game of Australian Rules Football. A coach always picks his best players for the biggest games so I knew, as the Ground Operations Manager and the AFL’s longest serving employee, Jill must have been very highly regarded and very good at what she did. In an age when people are time poor and the game is broadcast through numerous forms of media, it is vital for the show to be running on time and I’m sure everyone would agree that the AFL is run like clockwork. When speaking to people who knew Jill a lot better than I did, a common theme always appears that she was ‘hard but fair’ and was highly respected because of it.

In an industry like this one, ‘hard but fair’ is seen as refreshing, as the only way to get ahead in life is by others being upfront with you and providing necessary feedback to help you improve in areas of deficiency. They also said she genuinely cared for people and had a great sense of humour, two traits people definitely respond to, especially when you’re being honest with them. To have thrived in the VFL/AFL for over forty years would have required a great deal of character, especially in an industry that, at times, could have been viewed as a boys’ club. Jill was a great role model and inspiration for women who want to pursue a career in sports administration and today we see a lot of females holding very important positions across all areas of the game. Like many of us, Jill cared dearly about our great game and this was reflected in her poignant final words to good friend AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou – “Look after the game, it means so much to so many.” Rest in peace Jill. For AFL players, something will be missing when we’re preparing for a blockbuster game.

or Hawthorn fans, the name Des Meagher brings back memories of a ranging left footer bolting along the wing as a member of the 1971 premiership side. However, as former teammate Don Scott reminds us, his role in the formation of the VFL Players’ Association was just as impressive and without his contribution, the AFL Players’ Association may not be in the strong position it is in today. “Des came down to Hawthorn in the 1960s, from Xavier, and played his first game as a centre half forward against Collingwood,” said Scott. “He was an amazing athlete and had incredible endurance and they moved him up onto the wing as a tall wingman at 6’2 and that’s where he made his name. “He was a man of great passion and during the formation of the Players’ Association he could see, like the rest of us, that the commitment was getting much greater than it ever had before and while not full time, the requirement placed on our time was greater than those before us. “He was at the inaugural meeting of the Players’ Association, held at Geoff Pryor’s flat in North Melbourne, and the greater percentage of players there were from Hawthorn, as it was that kind of club. Des was a senior player at the time and it was here he became an office bearer as the first secretary of the organisation. “Players were required to pay fees to join the Association, in the same way they are today and it was Des’ job to follow up players to get them to pay. “At the time it was a very hands-on job as you had to chase delegates to get players to pay their dues, which was a bloody tough job and also perform all the other roles a secretary does. But Des was well suited to the role because he was that kind of man, a committee man, an organiser who got involved with everything and wanted to make a difference.”

One of his fondest memories of Des came during a meeting called by former Hawthorn coach John Kennedy where Meagher showed he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion. “Back in the 60s, Hawthorn weren’t going so well and we were coached by John Kennedy and we were going so badly that he called a meeting, which is not like John Kennedy,” Scott recalls. “He was at wits end and asked players to put forward their theories on why we weren’t going so well. “Peter Hudson, who was full forward at the time, said to the group, ‘Can you guys further up the field, when you get the ball, just lift your head so you deliver it to me properly. “At which point Des Meagher piped up and said “How about you come up to the midfield and try and get a bloody kick!” Don Scott marvelled at Meagher’s incredible endurance as did former teammate David Parkin, who played alongside Meagher as well as captaining and coaching him. “I still remember he would finish work as a pharmacist at Box Hill hospital, run to training at Glenferrie, dominate all the drills which were very tough during John Kennedy’s rein and then run home to Box Hill,” said Parkin.

‘’He had a running capacity that I’ve never seen in a footballer. He set a new standard in distance covered and had unbelievable tenacity. He was as wiry as could be and was a very consistent and competent footballer.’ “He was a running enthusiast when no-one else was. “He would also run marathons, was highly intelligent, excelled at swimming and water polo, and had a quirky sense of humour.” Des Meagher played 198 games for the Hawthorn Football Club from 1966 – 1976 and then went on to coach the Hawthorn reserves side for 14 years taking them to seven successive finals series from 1982-88, including the 1985 reserves premiership. Meagher was highly regarded within the football industry and the words of Don Scott provide strong indications of why he was endeared by so many. “He was a very honourable man and had strong convictions in whatever he believed in. He was a man of great passion and most of all he was a very moral man,” said Scott. Des Meagher was 67 when he died. He is survived by his wife, Nanette and their three daughters.





Board welcomes

The AFL Players’ Association was created “For Players, By Players,” and is driven by a team of Directors who determine the direction the organisation will take. Names like Power, Ball, Goodes and Pavlich all feature on the Board and now the Association welcomes two more members.


ason Blake and Adam Selwood join the Board, replacing former President Brett Burton and retired West Coast forward Ash Hansen. The two were appointed unopposed at the Association’s recent Annual General Meeting. AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis was quick to welcome the pair. “We could not have asked for two more qualified candidates,” said Finnis. “Jason has been an outstanding Delegate and won the AFL Players’ Association’s Delegate of the Year Award last year. Adam has been a great asset to our organisation over a number of years, assisting us with communicating and engaging with the playing group in the West.” Both became delegates in 2008, with Adam having been West Coast’s alternate delegate the year before. “They have embodied our Association values and while they have big shoes to fill, we are confident we have the best two men for the job,” Finnis said. Sydney Swans star and current Director Adam Goodes echoed these sentiments, having worked closely with the duo for a number of years. “Jason has been a great man to work with and he certainly understands where we are heading. He has been a clear leader as a Delegate and is going to be a great addition to our board,” said Goodes “Adam has shown he is willing to speak up for player rights, having raised concerns about the new AFL air travel arrangement at last year’s Directors and

“We could not have asked for two

more qualified candidates” – mATT Finnis.

Delegates conference. By him speaking up and raising the concerns of players at his club, e managed to get a better outcome for players. “These blokes are passionate about our Association and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and that is the type of guys we want on our board.” Both players have combined study and football throughout their career and AFL Players’ Association General Manager Player Development Steve Alessio was quick to sing their praises. “Adam has been studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University, while Jason has completed a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at RMIT. These guys are great examples for younger players to follow,” said Alessio. Blake is also looking forward to the challenge having seen first-hand a lot of the hard work the Association does to assist players. “The PA has done a lot of work with the Saints this year, helping out our boys on a variety of issues, so I know the great work these guys do behind the scenes,” said Blake. “I’m excited to learn more from some of the great players who have been Directors for a number of years, like Goodesy and Pav, and I’m very proud to be representing the collective group as part of this Board. “It’s such an important year for the Association, with the negotiations for a new CBA underway, so we need all players united and that’s why I want to get more involved to ensure as a playing group we get a ‘fair deal’ when these negotiations are concluded.”

A TOP START On a warm Wednesday evening in March, over 40 of the AFL’s biggest stars converged on the Triple M Rooftop for the Association’s first ever Players’ BBQ.


his new event was designed to provide players with an informal environment, away from the footy field, where they can catch up over a meal, drink and a laugh before they clash in opposing colours when the siren sounds. AFL Players’ Association Director Matthew Pavlich flew over for the event and said it was a great opportunity for players to unite as a collective group before the season commenced. “I think it’s a great idea and it gives us a chance to catch up with our colleagues before the season starts,” Pavlich said. “We go out to battle for our clubs during the year, but off the field we’re good mates. This BBQ is a great chance to have a chat with the boys about issues facing the playing group and hear their opinions so we are all on the same page. “It also gives our Association an opportunity to update us on progress with matters like the CBA and allows us to raise any other issues we want assistance with.” The event was attended by club captains, members of club leadership groups, Association Directors and Delegates and members of the media. Gary Ablett, Matthew Pavlich, Jonathan Brown and Luke Ball were among those who

joined fifty members of the AFL media to enjoy the BBQ and discuss the season ahead. AFL Players’ Association Public Affairs Manager Ben Hart explained that the informal nature of the BBQ had allowed for open discussions and was an important step in improving the relationship between AFL players and the media. “It’s about both stakeholders getting a better understanding of where the other is coming from. The best way to do this is by building a relationship based around respect. Giving the media the opportunity to chat with these players in an informal ‘off the record’ environment was certainly a step in the right direction,’ Hart said. The Association’s Vice President Luke Ball addressed the crowd prior to dinner and spoke about the playing group’s desire for a ‘fair deal’ during the negotiations for the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement. “What we are looking for is a result which reflects the value players bring to the game,” said Ball.

“We are thrilled that the game has experienced so much growth and we all agree that the AFL is doing a great job promoting the game. What we want is recognition for our role in this growth and a share of the revenue which players have helped generate by putting on a spectacle each week which drives fans through the gate. “When you look at the players that are in this room it is pretty clear that these are the blokes that fans come to see, so I think we all agree they deserve their fair share.” AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said the concept was a great chance for the players to talk to the media without the pressures of cameras and microphones. “It’s good for players to see that the media are just normal people and vice versa.” Finnis said. “We often speak to the media on behalf of players, but it’s nice for players to speak for themselves and be able to provide their views on issues which relate to them like the CBA or changes to the interchange rule. “Since the event we’ve received great feedback and I’d like to thank all those who attended. It was something new for us and thanks to the support of our members it was definitely a success, so I can confirm that we will definitely be looking to make this a fixture on the AFL calendar and ensure it will be even bigger and better next year.”

“We go out to battle for our clubs

during the year, but off the field

we’re good mates” – MATTHEW PAVLICH.




Indigenous stars make camp

a success

A team boasting names like Goodes, Rioli, Franklin, Davey, Burgoyne, Johncock and Ryder would be any AFL coach’s dream. These were just a few members of another team – the group of 69 Indigenous AFL players – who attended the biennial AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp in Sydney in January.


t the conclusion of the 6th AFL Players’ Association Indigenous Camp, General Manager - Players Development Steve Alessio says the evolution of the camp is significant. “It is designed to provide Indigenous players with the opportunity and skills to support each other and give input into the development of programs that will benefit their personal and professional lives,” said Alessio. “Each year this camp is improving and we measure its success by the amount of engagement we have with players and our ability to take the ideas they raise at these camps and make them a reality.” One of the most impressive ideas this year was the creation of an AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board to be made up of current players to provide a voice for indigenous players within the AFL. Sydney Swans champion and Players’ Board Member Adam Goodes was highly supportive of a board which would meet regularly to discuss matters facing indigenous players and many of the other 69 indigenous players in attendance were quick to raise their hands to assist with its formation. “This is a great initiative and something I would be honoured to be involved in. To be able to represent the other Indigenous players in the competition and raise our views on matters which directly affect us is something I am very passionate about.” “This is what the camp is all about, it’s about discussing these kind of ideas and

then working with our Association to make them happen. “It is important that we continue to improve the understanding of Indigenous culture within the AFL and at an event like the camp there is a great opportunity for clubs, the AFL and our Association to get a better understanding of what life is like for an indigenous player.” The enthusiasm of Goodes was shared by many players throughout the five-day camp which featured a range of education sessions and activities held across Redfern, Blacktown and Central Sydney. Hosted by Mark Yettica-Paulson, a founding member of the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia and consultant in leadership management and community education, the attendees were encouraged

to approach every situation with three simple themes in mind – be shameless, be fearless and be curious. This proved crucial in facilitating open and courageous discussions between all parties in attendance. For the first time, the AFL Players’ Association invited club Player Development Managers to attend the camp to learn more about indigenous culture and discuss how each club can better service the cultural requirements of Indigenous players. Players discussed ‘land, spirit and culture’ which highlighted the differences between their cultural backgrounds and showed that a “one-size fits all” approach to Indigenous culture is a very misguided approach. This led to a discussion about the concept of cultural leave, which would allow players to attend funerals and meet their cultural expectations. Players provided individual insights into what is expected of them from a cultural perspective from members of their families and within their community and the importance that is placed on attending funerals and the ramifications should they

be unable to attend. Player Development Managers then provided a club’s perspective and together they discussed ideas for how this situation could be potentially improved. Phil Narkle from the West Coast Eagles, who is the first-ever Indigenous Liaison Officer to be appointed at an AFL club, spoke about his role and how he is assisting the club in understanding Indigenous culture. In particular, he explained the necessity for players to attend these cultural ceremonies and how other clubs can work with players and their cultural elders within indigenous communities to make the concept of cultural leave a realistic option within an AFL club. He explained that the cultural leave concept must be individualised, as each player has a different cultural expectation, depending on which community they are from, so a blanket approach to the matter is unrealistic. To assist with this, Phil has created a handbook for the Eagles which provides insights into different Indigenous cultures present in the playing group in the hope of creating a better understanding among staff and building a better environment for Indigenous players. At the conclusion of this discussion, the players were able to unwind with a presentation by the National Under 16 Indigenous Team which had returned from a tour of Tonga, where they played in a carnival against seven South Pacific nations – Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga. They spoke of their experiences from both a cultural and football perspective and then demonstrated the war-cry which they had developed and performed throughout their tour. The AFL players were taught this war-cry by the Under 16 players in preparation for the Indigenous All Stars game in Alice Springs. The young players joined the group in a training session at the Blacktown Olympic Park stadium in Blacktown, providing a spectacle for the fans who had gathered and players then took time to sign autographs and chat to fans. The following morning, players were in Redfern at the National Centre for Indigenous

Excellence participating in educational sessions about managing money, commercial opportunities for players, leaving a legacy and taking ownership of the new AFL Indigenous Advisory Board. Players later returned to the Mercure hotel in Central Sydney knowing that the AFL All Stars team would soon be announced and when Michael O’Loughlin eventually read out the team the excitement amongst those selected was very apparent. The boys then gathered to watch the Three Boys Dreaming documentary featuring Carlton’s Chris Yarran, who had just been named an All-Star, and which followed his path to AFL football.

One of the most impressive ideas

this year was the creation of an Indigenous Advisory board...

The following morning players travelled to various schools throughout Sydney to provide some training and education to young kids to encourage them to stay in school and then took them through some basic football drills. The bond between these players had clearly grown since the beginning of the camp with many players discussing what they had learnt over the previous days and providing feedback to the AFL Players’ Association on what they would like to see improved. Unfortunately, the AFL All-Stars match was cancelled due to bad weather. However, the camp was a huge success with players driving the agenda on how Indigenous programs can be improved. There can be no doubt the voice of Indigenous AFL players is getting louder.




Association welcomes new members The AFL’s newest group of draftees converged on the MCG in early January for the annual AFL Players’ Association Induction Camp, to discover for the first time the services and support the Association will provide them throughout not only their playing days, but long after they hang up their boots. TYSON DENSLEY reports.


redominantly teenagers, the 126 primary and rookie-list athletes needed to hit the ground running following the draft, and the Association wasted no time in ensuring they gained a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities as young AFL players, as they step simultaneously into adulthood and the public eye. The Association has continued to evolve in recent years to ensure its members are comprehensively represented both on-field and off, and the Induction Camp – conducted over two days – offers them a range of educational sessions, conducted by current and former players, as well as professionals from industries outside of the AFL. As well as being presented with some valuable life lessons varying from the importance of road safety to how to make the perfect burrito, perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the camp for the budding superstars was the chance to mingle with players from other clubs and States. Many also used the breaks in the program to catch up with former junior teammates who have been recruited to

other clubs, perhaps to discuss the gruelling pre-season which was just approaching half-way point. The AFL Players’ Association took the reins on day one of the camp to enlighten the group on the many issues they may encounter in the coming years, while on the second day, the AFL discussed important hands-on issues such as the rule changes that would come into play this season. The Association conducted basic literacy and numeracy tests to help identify those who may want assistance in specific areas from Steve Alessio and his Player Development Department. Presented by MC Scott Lucas, who has recently joined the AFL Players’ Association as Player Development Regional Manager (Western Region), the group assembled for one of the camp’s morning sessions where they heard from Lucas and current players about the benefits of membership and importance of unity across the broader playing group. Alessio believes the Association is well equipped to offer a range of services to its members.

“We are full of people who understand what it means to be in draftee’s shoes. We know about the pressures and pitfalls of life as an AFL player and are ideally placed to provide support, information and advice,” said Alessio. Mark Eustice addressed the group first with a raw account of his roller-coaster journey as a league footballer in the 1980s with Essendon, Richmond and Sydney, whilst talking about the advantages of being a high-profile athlete, and also revealing its pitfalls. He recalled that his decision to experiment and eventually deal in drugs made playing the game on a Saturday a living hell. Eustice stressed to players the importance of using all available resources to help them through difficult times, as depression and other mental illnesses such as his own bipolar disorder were ailments that desperately required the assistance that the Association could provide. Morning tea was next, and the players predictably wasted no time accommodating their growing frames with as much food as physically possible, before splitting into three

groups for the next session. The groups rotated through three workshop activities: These were culinary life-skills presented by former Bomber, Jason Johnson; ‘Looking after yourself and your mates’ presented by Justine Stynes from BeyondBlue – the national depression initiative; and ‘AFL Players’ Association – For the Players by the Players’ – a presentation from the General Manager – Player Relations Ian Prendergast, who provided the players with an intimate understanding of the Association’s advocacy activities. Over lunch, some of the players used the time to cast an eye over the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, where they hope to ply their trade over the coming seasons, preferably in September. The first afternoon session was an intensive 90-minute presentation by Jason Austin and Rod Campbell of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service Road Awareness Program called ‘Decisions in your Life’. Raw video clips highlighting the cause and effect of serious road trauma hit home with the draftees, with the vast majority only recently obtaining their drivers licence.

The AFL Players’ Association has continued to evolve in recent YEARS TO ENSURE ITS MEMBERS ARE

The players interacted with the speakers and took away valuable lessons about road safety and responsible decision-making. Next, a handball competition got underway for the top picks from each club with digital cameras and iPods up for grabs, and the boys approached this with some nervous tension under the watchful eye of the other 120odd draftees, with Collingwood’s Alex Fasolo the eventual winner. An eye-opener followed, as AFL consultant Frank Bassini provided a charismatic but stern address on the ever-growing issue of ‘Diversity in the AFL’, and highlighted the importance of respecting the league’s racial vilification code of conduct. This was followed by current players Bachar Houli, Aaron Davey and Majak Daw taking the stage. Each at different stages of their careers, and from vastly different walks of life, the player’s accounts of their difficult paths to the elite level was food for thought, particularly Houli’s recollection of having to sneak out of home in order to train and play football against the wishes of his family and its Muslim religious beliefs. As his talent grew, Bachar was even forced to hide his footy awards and trophies from his parents. Next up, Mark Bolton and Darren Burton, along with current Tiger Mitch Morton,

highlighted the players’ charity Ladder, to which a portion of the players’ match payments goes in an effort to help eradicate the problem of youth homelessness across Australia. Morton explained some of the work he has carried out with the organisation, and described the pride and fulfilment felt by those who offer their time to Ladder. The final speakers of the day were AFL Players’ Association Chief Executive Matt Finnis, along with current players Luke Miles of St Kilda and Nick Maxwell of Collingwood, and retired Bulldog star Scott West – now a development coach with Melbourne. One of the major recurring points of the entire day, and one particularly expressed by West and Maxwell, was that the players’ journeys were only just beginning, and while they may feel a sense of achievement at having been drafted recently, the hard work had to start now or the opportunity would just as quickly be taken away from them. The day came to a light-hearted end with former drummer from The Living End, Travis Demsey giving the group some tips on the bongo, followed by a barbecue dinner and another chance to mix with colleagues and future opponents. The camp encompassed a variety of fundamental lessons and provided all 126 footballers with some vital knowledge on rights and responsibilities in their new workplace, and most importantly, the assistance the AFL Players’ Association will provide them throughout the journey.





A true legend of the game Modern footballers endure countless hours in the gym getting their bodies ready for the rigours of AFL football. However, for AFL Legend Kevin Murray his strength came from years of lugging metal pipes across building sites throughout Melbourne. Heath Evans spoke to him.


his was just one of many tales that Fitzroy champion Kevin Murray revealed to us when we met with him to chat about his induction last year as the 23rd AFL Legend of the Game. His career spanned a massive 333 games for Fitzroy and 44 matches for West Perth over a 20 year period and he played a further 10 years at a lower level until finally hanging up the boots at the age of 52. The man, affectionately known as “Bulldog”, made his VFL senior debut at the age of 16 with the Fitzroy Football Club and went on to win nine Best & Fairest awards at the club, a Brownlow Medal and was eventually named at Captain of the Fitzroy Team of the Century. He also won a Best & Fairest award at West Perth during his time there and throughout his career he represented his states on 30 occasions – Victoria (24 times) and Western Australia (6 times) – as well as captaining both states. His incredible career was also capped off by being named a member of the AFL Team of the Century. We had the opportunity to chat with Kevin during which he revealed his thoughts on the modern game, the story of his tattoos, his Brownlow medal and his proudest moments as the most recent player to become a Legend of the Game.

You worked your entire career as a scaffolder. We always encourage players to study or work outside of footy but how did you find combining working and footy? It was a tough trade and in the early years it was very tiring but I grew hardened to it and the strength I built helped me throughout my entire career I was constantly pulling myself up, chin up style to get to the different levels of the construction site and this helped me build upper body strength. These sites could be between 30-40 feet in the air and we would have to chin up to the next platform and then lower ourselves down at smoko and then chin up again to get back to work. We did that all day. I found that by staying active during the week I was able to recover much more quickly than some of the other guys. If you had injuries, you’d work them out of you because you were always moving. It was gym work without going to the gym. You were out in the elements – the heat, the cold and the wind – and that was a big help to my football. They were very different times, what do you think has changed most about football since you played the game? The players no longer hold their position, which means there are always huge packs around the contest. You look at Nick Riewoldt who is the full forward and he will be at full back at points during the game. That never happened in our day. Another thing that has changed is that players don’t turn their body when attacking a contest. In the old days when two players were running at the ball you would bump the other player off and pick up the ball. Whereas these days they both dive in at the same time.

In the old game, if you did that and bent down and didn’t pick up the ball cleanly first time there was always a player in each team who would knock you out.

Modern players are missing out terribly not having the opportunity to represent their State and no one was bigger in State footy than EJ.

Do you think it has changed for the better? I don’t feel it has changed for the better. The days where fans would come to see full forwards kicking huge bags of goals were the best times. Guys like Coleman kicking 14 goals in 1954 were the best days. When he was playing, the Essendon crowd would change ends after each quarter just to be close to the man and watch him tussle. But as far as the spectacle goes, it’s great for fans to enjoy the promotion and we could never have imagined in our day that the game would be what it is now.

Your father played football at Fitzroy and was heavily involved in your career. Can you tell me a bit about him? My father played 66 games for Fitzroy and was a great man. He treated all my injuries and many times he got me back on the track much earlier than it would have been otherwise. One time I had to wear a back brace and it was made out of leather, but it was terribly uncomfortable and it rubbed so bad that Dad made me a new one out of canvas which was much better and I wore that for a while and now it sits in the National Sports Museum.

Who is your favourite player in the modern game? I like Jonathon Brown because he’s an old style footballer. The kind of player that when you run out with him he makes you stand 10 feet tall. So during your time who were the best players you played with? Bob Skilton, Ted Whitten & Polly Farmer were the best and if they played today they would have been even better. They had the professional approach to the game and training even in those days. They could kick on both feet and their preparation was impeccable. Skilton and Whitten in particular and Whitten taught you so much on and off the field. You played State of Origin with these guys. What was it like to represent your State? It was a huge honour to represent your State and when you came back to the club after playing State of Origin you came back a better player as you learnt from the others. Ted Whitten would always greet you at the door as you arrived and shake your hand. It is a wonderful feeling representing your State and it bonds you with the other players and this continues long after your career. When you trained with the other guys it felt amazing. They had such great skills and the ball zipped around without hitting the ground and you learnt from them and they learnt from you.

You won the Brownlow at the age of 31 which is an amazing effort. But I hear there is more to the story than that, which includes a twisted ankle and methylated spirits in your boot? Yes, in the last game I badly injured my ankle before half time against Melbourne and I didn’t want to take my boot off because I knew it would swell and I wouldn’t be able to get my boot back on so I asked the trainer to pour a bottle of methylated spirits into my sock and fill my boot so it would act like ice and I could continue playing. I finished the game and the Brownlow Medal was the following week and it was always held on the Monday after the last home and away game. I ended up winning the award and the next week the winner had to run a lap of the oval before the first final and then run into the middle of the ground to be presented with the Brownlow medal. I spent the entire week going down to the ocean each day to soak my ankle to try and get it better and I remember one St Kilda fan, who was a taxi driver, arriving at my home one day with a bucket of sea water to help me with the swelling. I ended up running the lap and the feeling of elation was so great I didn’t even feel the pain.

You were well-known for your tattoos but I have been told you covered them up when you won the Brownlow on the request of your dad. I had a tattoo as a young 13 year old training at Fitzroy and my dad was one of the committee members at the club and was always at training. But I didn’t want him to see them, so I always had to sneak out of the shower and keep the towel on my back and turn my back to the wall as I went past my father so he couldn’t see them. When I won the Brownlow Medal in 1969 my father asked me to wear a longsleeved jumper to cover up the tattoos when I ran the final lap to collect the medal. Of course I did this but afterwards quite a few Fitzroy supporters contacted me to say they were disappointed that I had worn a long sleeved jumper and didn’t have my tattoos showing as they had become somewhat of a trademark. What is more attractive to you – Loyalty, Money or Premiership? Loyalty to the club is the ultimate and to be a one club player is an amazing achievement. You stuck with your mates and you wanted to be part of it. Finally, who were two of the biggest influences on your footy? Bill Stephens was a huge influence as my coach at Fitzroy and Len Smith who also coached me at Fitzroy was instrumental in me doing so well and teaching me how to play the game and be a team player and I owe a hell of a lot to both of them.





The Year of Taking Stock As the 2011 AFL Season commences, many players will have sat down to set goals and objectives for the season ahead, discussing weaknesses, strengths and how to boost the role they play for the team.

Players report back on wellbeing efforts When the AFL Players’ Association began providing integrated development and welfare support to its members in 1999, it could never have imagined the evolution into the full-scale Player Development Program that Steve Alessio leads today.


he AFL Players’ Association General Manager – Player Development said the first services offered were very basic when compared with the plethora of programs on offer today. “These initial services were based around counselling and educational programs and were outsourced to external providers as we didn’t have the internal resources to facilitate these,” Alessio said. “We introduced Educational and Training Grants in 2000, as well as Computer Grants the same year which were seen as a major step in assisting players who wanted to study outside of football. “Ten years on and the AFL Players’ Association can proudly boast that we have provided over $4.2million in Educational and Training Grants along with over $843,000 in Player Computer Grants. “In the last year alone, we provided over $414,801 in Education and Training Grants and had over 308 AFL players undertake some kind of external study in 2010.” These are just a few of the statistics contained in the Association’s new Development and Wellbeing Report 2010, which reports back to the AFL industry


ormer AFL player, turned financial advisor, Brad Wira explains that diligent players will have also begun going through the same process in regards to their financial goals. “They will have already completed the exact same procedures in regards to their financial goals and set objectives for the year ahead and beyond,” explains Wira. “They will have calculated a contract increase and what this means to their budget. They will have factored in an interest rate rise and how much their monthly mortgage payment will climb. Also they will have set financial goals for the year, starting with reviewing their budget, looking at saving for the annual getaway, the deposit on a new house, the upgrading of their car and any other expenses so they know where they stand. “These are all part of the signs of a player who has done everything to ensure financial success off the field.” “In this day and age, we are continually reminded of increasing TV rights deals, new Collective Bargaining Agreements and steadily-increasing average player salaries. By putting some simple steps in place, players have a fantastic opportunity to set themselves up from a financial perspective during their playing career. “The secret is to start early. From your first contract. Just as players adapt to the changing rules and speed of the game, your personal finances should be treated no differently. “Ask yourself some questions: Do you know what your annual contract is? What is left after key things such as tax,

superannuation and unavoidable expenses come out? What is your monthly mortgage payment. Do you spend more than you earn? These answers will help you determine where you are at from a financial perspective. “You should also consider the annual income you would require to support you and your family if 2011 was your final season in the AFL”. Wira says players will be surprised how easily they can get their situation under control with some smart planning and organisation. Key tips include: • Start Now – Don’t procrastinate • Choose a Financial Mentor • Complete a Budget – Update it before and at the end of every season • Confirm how much you earn and how much you spend • Use separate bank accounts for daily spending & savings plans • Know what you own and what you owe • Discuss your entire portfolio – from Budget to Superannuation to Player Retirement Account • Allocate an hour every six months to meet with your Accountant, Financial Mentor & Manager together.

The secret is to start early. From

your first contract. Just as players adapt to the changing rules and

speed of the game, your personal

For more information about what’s available from the AFL Players’ Association or for assistance with your own circumstances please contact the Association’s Financial Consultants. Victoria, New South Wales & Queensland Mark Porter T. 03 9621 1800 Western & South Australia Brad Wira T. 08 9481 5222

finances should be treated no differently.

and wider community on the activity of the Association’s Player Development program. The report covers the gamut of the Association’s activities in the areas of wellbeing and development, including Career Transition and Education, Financial Education and Support, Wellbeing Service, Cultural Diversity and Past Players Support. AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said that programs run by the AFL Players’ Association had set benchmarks for player support in Australian, and international, sport.  “But we can always do better and this report is about the Association being even more accountable to its members and the football industry in general about how it spends players’ money to ensure they receive the support they need,” Finnis said.   Other key results in the Report include: • Younger players were more likely to see a member of the Association’s nationwide network of wellbeing counsellors, with 16 players aged 19 seeking support last year, compared to just nine players aged 30+; • 33 players received tutoring support for literacy and numeracy skills development;

• 112 first-year players participated in the AFL Football Apprenticeship – a year-long program that culminates in a TAFE qualification; • $55,574 was provided to past players by the AFL Players’ Association to pay hospital excess payments; and • Two thirds of retired or delisted players keep playing football at some level, with 26 per cent combining work and football and 13 per cent combining work, study and football. Matt Finnis said the AFL Players’ Association hoped the report would be released yearly, allowing year-on-year comparisons in all key indicators. “The Association is proud of its record in supporting players and is confident it can continue to expand and improve these programs,” Finnis said.  “We exist for players and were created by players. This means we are in a unique position to provide a wide range of services for all our members – present and past.” To access the report, go to au/articleimage/wellbeing-report

The AFL Players’ Association provides a number of financial services for its members. The ‘Managing My Money One’ workshop includes budgeting, what is tax & superannuation advice. The ‘Managing My Money Two’ workshop focuses on preparation for life after football and performs a post career financial health check which also includes an overview of your accumulated Player Retirement Account.





Retired players given online study scholarships Five former AFL players have been given the opportunity to go back to school with a scholarship from Open Universities Australia.


s part of a three-year AFL Players’ Association partnership, OUA has offered Learning for Life Scholarships to five AFL footballers who have been retired for three or more years with each winner being awarded one unit of study with Open Universities Australia. The winners were Kris Massie, Marty Pask, Stephen Schwerdt, Adrian Fletcher and Rob Forster-Knight with each applicant asked why they wanted to study and how an academic qualification would benefit them.

former Lion and Bulldog Marty Pask

said he was excited about the opportunity. Former Adelaide Crow Schwerdt now employed as the club’s Physical Performance Manager, said: “This is an outstanding opportunity to continue my evolution as a coach in the current environment and have formal exposure to current methods and pedagogy for today’s athletes. “This scholarship will not only provide me with an increased level of skills, knowledge and formal qualifications, it will also result in real improvements at the ‘coal face’ of AFL – the players and their physical development and welfare.” Player agent and former Lion and Bulldog Marty Pask said he was excited about the opportunity. “I see this as a great chance to continue my professional development and acquire skills that will help the next generation of AFL/AFL Players’ Association members,” said Pask.

The scholarship program is designed to assist retired AFL footballers in their transition into life after football. OUA marketing and communications director Sally Ling said “online learning through OUA enables students to fit study around their training, playing, work or family commitments. “We have seen a 70% increase in enrolments through the AFL Players’ Association from December 2009 to December 2010,” said Ling. AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said he was very pleased with the ongoing relationship between the Association and OUA and the benefits it was providing for players. “This fantastic initiative will make a real difference to our past player members as they negotiate their post-football careers,” Finnis said. Enrolments for study period 2 close on 13 May, with studies starting on 30 May. Further details on the partnership agreement, study options and special benefits for AFL players, coaches and club officials are on the OUA microsite at Owned by seven of Australia’s premier universities, OUA is the national leader in quality online tertiary education, enrolling more than 144,000 students since 1993. We provide access to more than 1100 units and 130 courses taught by 18 leading universities and other tertiary education providers around the country in: arts, humanities and social sciences, business, education, health, information technology, law, science and engineering.

Callan an all-round champion During his playing career, retiring Western Bulldog Tim Callan not only fitted in an undergraduate degree but also managed to complete a Masters and two fitness courses, earning him the Open Universities Australia Personal Development Award at the 2010 Madden Medal. Callan moved into the finance world during his football career, working at Goldman Sachs JB Were while studying for a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment. He then completed a Master of Applied Finance and also Certificates 3 and 4 in Fitness. On receiving the award, Callan said his aim early on in his AFL playing days was to gain an education and find a job in the finance industry and ensure he was prepared for his post-AFL career. “Study was definitely a focus for me. I wasn’t gifted with as much ability as a lot of players. I basically spent half the time training. When I wasn’t training, I’d go home and put my head in the books and I found a good balance there,” Callan said. “Exams were tough, especially in Semester Two with the end of the season coming. Other people were going on end of season trips and I had to come back and get things finished. “Rodney Eade was really understanding. Most footy clubs are. They want players to develop themselves outside of footy because it can help them on the field.” Callan said at least four players at the Western Bulldogs had completed university degrees and younger recruits were increasingly looking at study options. Tim also won the OUA Education and Training trophy at the 2010 AFL Players’ Association MVP awards.

Ladder St Vincent Street

launches in Adelaide

With the support of players, Ladder has launched its second project in Port Adelaide, offering lifechanging opportunities to 23 South Australian young people that have experienced homelessness.


he Ladder St Vincent Street Project is the outcome of a groundbreaking partnership between the Federal and South Australian governments and Ladder to break the cycle of youth homelessness for young people living in South Australia. Andrew Crowell, Project Officer Ladder St Vincent Street, said the opening of Ladder St Vincent St marks the next chapter of the Ladder story. “Ladder St Vincent Street will provide more than a roof over the young people’s heads. We’ll be giving them the chance to break the cycle of homelessness and realise their true potential,” Crowell said. Linking in with the local community is an extremely important part of Ladder’s programs. The facilities offer self-contained accommodation for clients and feature common areas, meeting rooms, office space and retail tenancies – including a training café. “This project aims to be the heart of the neighbourhood both in terms of location and linkages, giving disadvantaged young people the opportunity to truly connect with their community,” said Crowell. The young people will also have the chance to work with present AFL players as well as past players who now compete in the SANFL. They also work with elite female athletes who will conduct group and individual mentoring sessions. During the construction phase of the building, Mentoring Coordinator and ex-Crow Kris Massie ran a 15-week pilot program in partnership with Service to Youth Council and Uniting Care Wesley Port Adelaide. Fourteen Port Power and Adelaide Crows players were involved in the pilot, which

used sport as a vehicle for skills development and team building with young people at risk of homelessness and community disengagement. Massie explains why the assistance of Association members in Ladder’s programs is so important and powerful. “For generations, kids have looked up to their favourite footy players and seen them as role models,” said Massie. “Not all of the young Left to right: Ladder CEO Mark Bolton, Senator Mark Arbib, people we work with are SA Housing Minister Jennifer Rankine and Chairperson of St. John’s Youth Service Paul Smith. interested in footy, but player mentors can still have a really positive impact on their lives. Just knowing people who will have a bright future ahead that there’s someone there to talk of them and have the valuable experience to really makes a difference.” of having a mentor.” The opening of Ladder St Vincent AFL Players’ Association CEO, Matt Street hosted dignitaries and guests to Finnis said the project was about much celebrate the long awaited partnership more than providing accommodation to between the Ladder and the Federal and young people who are homeless or at risk State Governments. of becoming homeless, Ladder At Vincent Minister for Social Housing, Street taps into the passion and commitment Homelessness and Sport Senator Mark of the AFL industry and its players. Arbib, said sports stars have an incredible “Engaging AFL players both past and capacity to influence young people in a present is critical to the success of Ladder positive way. St Vincent Street. We are encouraged to “I commend those players, teams and already have the interest and commitment sports associations who invest in the future of many players willing to get behind of our young Australians” he said. Ladder,” Finnis said. “The AFL is to be congratulated for its “Ladder St Vincent Street further significant investment, working with the demonstrates the commitment of our governments and the community sector members to give back to the community that and, importantly, ensuring that these young supports them.”



Curtin Griffith Macquarie Monash RMIT Swinburne UniSA

Inform Magazine August Edition  
Inform Magazine August Edition  

The official magazine of the AFL Players' Association