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AFL PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION

DEVELOPMENT & WELLBEING REPORT 2011


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

00. Contents 17

01 Introduction

4

02 Player Engagement Summary 2011

5

03 Player Development Services 2011

6

04 Career Transition & Education

8

05 Financial Education & Support

16

06 Wellbeing Services

17

07 Cultural Diversity

20

08 AFL Players’ Alumni

24

09 Next Steps

26

10 Our Partners in Player Development

27

24 7

20

CONTENTS

3


01. Introduction Fostering the personal and professional development of 792 AFL players during their careers and off the football field is a responsibility the AFL Players’ Association relishes. In 2011, the AFL Players’ Association continued to strengthen the range of support and education services on offer to our members, in our aim to ensure that players lead healthy and successful lives long after their AFL playing careers have ended. An important change to the way we service our members has been the restructure of our Player Development Department. The new model shifts from each Player Development Manager focusing on delivering one particular service, to what is now a team of experienced professionals who can provide services to players across a broad range of areas. Our PDRM’s work closely with a network of experts to provide services on everything from player education and professional development, to workplace training, financial education, counselling, and support services. The expansion of the Player Development program underpins the variety of support players can now access. This has also

In 2011

strengthened the PDRM’s relationship with club Player Development Managers and together they continue to work towards providing players with every opportunity to achieve their career objectives on and off the field. In January, the AFL’s newest group of draftees converged on the MCG for the annual AFL Players’ Induction Camp to gain a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities as young AFL players. Of this group, 104 first year players took part in our Football Apprenticeship induction program which provides an important platform for clubs to help new players adjust to the rigors of what it takes to be an AFL footballer. We have also seen a record number of players access Education and Training Grants with over 497 approved applications as players realise the wide ranging and long-term benefits of study, both personally and career-wise.

we were also proud to assist the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP) develop and launch a world-first postgraduate qualification for people who want to work as a Player Development Manager at an AFL club. The Graduate Certificate & Diploma in Elite Athlete Mentoring is a significant step forward in ensuring the best and most qualified people are working with our members. Many of our current Player Development Managers at AFL Clubs will be the first graduates of this course.

4

Introduction

We also witnessed the formation of the first Indigenous Player Advisory Board in Australian Sport. The concept was raised during the sixth AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp, held in February, and following an election and appointment of the inaugural members, it became a reality in late 2011.

“We are doing more than ever to provide opportunities for our members to succeed beyond the field.”– Steven Alessio, General Manager Player Development The Board has since had their first meeting, led by Chairman Adam Goodes, and have a direct line to the Players’ Association Board providing Indigenous Players with a voice on matters which specifically relate to their cultural requirements. This board was created to improve the programs and opportunities for Indigenous players in the AFL, and similarly the career of an AFL Player has never been more attractive. The programs that have been introduced along with the services ensuring player wellbeing, security and development continue to position the AFL career as the career of choice for any young athlete within Australia. With this goal always at the forefront our activities we continue to strive to be the pre-eminent player advocacy body in the country, providing our members with support services that are a benchmark in Australian Sport.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

02. Player Engagement Summary 2011 graph 01. AVERAGE PLAYER ENGAGEMENT AT AN AFL CLUB 2011 GRAPH 01 On an average club list of 44 players, players engage in work, study and professional development. This graph (left) is indicative of the average number of players at each club, actively participating in each of the categories listed.

44

40

30

20

10

Secondary School

0.5

Next Coach

0.5

Career Skills

1

Sporting Trade Skills

1

Next Goal

2

Business

2

Level 2 Coaches Course

2

Short Course

3

Work Part-time

5

Football Apprenticeship

5

Tafe

11

University

11

Total Players

44

GRAPH 02 The graph below represents the total summary of all player engagement.

graph 02 TOTAL PLAYER ENGAGEMENT – BY PROGRAM/ACTIVITY

2010

2011

138 200 33

125 199

45

48

68

26

22

43

40

Career skills

University

TAFE

Short courses

L2 coaches course

78

107

25 7

Football apprentice

47

38

* In 2010, this field was not recorded

112 104

Next Goal

6

Next Coach

8

* Sporting trade skills

Business

Work parttime

4

Secondary school

PLAYER ENGAGEMENT SUMMARY 2011

5


03. Player Development Services 2011

This year the restructure of our Player Development department moved from a topic based structure to a regionally orientated model. Previously each of our development managers was responsible for a number of services and together provided these to players across all of the teams. By allocating specific teams based on their geographic location to each of our Player Development Regional Managers (PDRM), clubs and players now have one consistent contact point for their AFL Players’ Association needs from the moment they enter the system until well into their retirement. With the expansion of the

competition, this regional model ensures that players have a strong understanding of who is representing them which enables them to build a strong relationship with their PDRM which we believe is crucially important. “The new model caters far more effectively to the expansion of a national

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS BY REGION Brett Johnson

competition,” Player Development Regional Manager Claire Mitchell-Taverner said. “Especially with the growing needs outside of Victoria, this year we’ve been able to play a greater role for the interstate teams. The restructure streamlines the system for our members, it gives them a single and regular contact point from the start of their careers through to the end of their time as a player, and beyond,” PDRM Brett Johnson said.

“The new model caters far more effectively to the expansion of a national competition… we offer a complete service covering all their needs.” – Claire Mitchell-Taverner

Vic Central

CLAIRE MITCHELL-TAVERNER

East

JOHN HINGE West

6

Former Adelaide Crow, John Hinge, also joined the team this year, taking on the role of West PDRM based in Adelaide, and he has had a major focus on establishing relationships with the clubs and other support people. “Many of our South Australian based Indigenous players have enrolled in education support courses delivered by RMIT. This has been used as a platform to engage many players with the community through the Ladder program that is up and running in Port Adelaide. I think it is crucially important for players to do something outside of footy, and through Ladder they get a chance to give something back (to the community). Helping those that are disadvantaged is a real eyeopener for a lot of these guys and you can see them develop emotionally as well,” said Hinge.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

“The opportunities and support available to players today through the PA and the clubs is incredible.” – Dennis carroll

Case study – Dennis Carroll PDM Like chalk and cheese Sydney Swans Player Welfare Development Manager Dennis Carroll compares the great divide between player services during his career throughout the 1980s and 90s to his role supporting current day players. Former Swans captain Dennis Carroll has seen it all in Sydney. He was there when the Swans became the first VFL team outside Victoria, and he was part of a struggling club trying to make good in a foreign town. He was also captain when the Swans became a threat in the finals for the first time. In late 2009, Carroll returned to the club he loves in a full-time role for the first time since retiring as a player in 1993. After two full seasons as a Player Welfare and Development Manager he says current day support

for players leaves his player experience in its wake. “The opportunities and support available to players today through the PA and the clubs is incredible – it’s like chalk and cheese compared to when I played,” Carroll said. “From a player’s perspective, the PA was just starting to develop throughout my career, it was starting to make a stand but was really in its infancy. Now the role of the PA is pivotal. “Through the PA and the support of Steve (Alessio) and Claire (MitchellTaverner), PDMs like myself and the clubs

get real support for players that want to be proactive about their off-field personal development and ensuring their transition from footy to the ‘real world’ is smooth.” Carroll highlighted the unique ability of PDMs from competing clubs to come together at various forums throughout the year, share ideas and techniques and gain insights into various pilot programs that could benefit their players down the track. “One of the great things about this role is that it’s one of the few areas of the game where ideas can be shared without that fear that you may be jeopardising a competitive advantage, and with the support of the PA it’s really a healthy environment for improving player welfare.”

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT SERVICES 2011

7


04. CAREER TRANSITION & EDUCATION

THE AFL Players’ Association continues to deliver its members record support in order to ensure their time in the game is as fruitful and rewarding as possible – and that their inevitable departure from professional playing ranks sees them make the most of the opportunities available to them. The Induction Camp January is a crucial time for new AFL players and during this transition period the PA ensures they have full knowledge and access to the support network available as members of the Players’ Association. This year the induction camp for first year players was split across two days. The first day was dedicated to introducing the 128 draftees to their representative body and guiding them through the development and wellbeing support networks open to them as they embark on their careers. “It’s an important day in our calendar because we’re one of the players’ first touchpoints and it’s critical they are fully aware of who we are and what we can do for them,” Brett Johnson said.

“Gone are the days of guys who haven’t given any thought to the fact that one day their career will end.” – Claire Mitchell-Taverner “For us, showing them that we are here, we’re approachable and we want to engage with them is paramount to being able to offer the best help we can throughout their careers.” Football Apprenticeship The Football Apprenticeship, delivered in conjunction with AFL SportsReady, provides a thorough grounding across 15 key areas

8

that enable players to gain skills critical to their development as an AFL player, but also skills that will enhance their growth beyond the game. In 2011, Collingwood and Adelaide joined the majority of clubs in embracing the Football Apprenticeship induction program and took part in sessions ranging from managing finances to media and public speaking, and even sponsorship and marketing. Brett Johnson explains that these courses are not only about building knowledge in these areas but also about players understanding the internal resources and external support networks that they can draw

“The main aim of the Football Apprenticeship is to increase the resilience and independence of these young guys coming into the system…” – Brett Johnson on should they wish to pursue careers in these fields. “The main aim of the Football Apprenticeship is to increase the resilience and independence of these young guys coming into the system and get them employing good habits from the moment they walk in the door,” he said. The Apprenticeship culminates in a TAFE qualification and it is hoped that next year all clubs will have their players benefit from the program.

FOOTBALL APPRENTICESHIP – CLUB PARTICIPATION PARTICIPATING CLUBS

112

2010

PARTICIPATING CLUBS

2011

TOTAL PLAYERS

TOTAL PLAYERS

104


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

Next Goal Work Placements This year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Next Goal program, a key transition program providing players with the opportunity to explore different career paths, assisting with clarity on the direction they would like to take in their ‘second career’. Rayden Tallis, Career Transition Manager of AFL SportsReady says this program gives players valuable insights and workplace experience into other industries and vocations that interest them. “The Next Goal work placement program continues to help AFL players get the practical experience they need for their careers outside of football,” Tallis said.

“The Next Goal work placement program continues to help AFL players get the practical experience they need for their careers outside of football.” – Rayden Tallis The 2011 figures highlight the popularity of the program, with more than 50 guys utilising the opportunity to expand their career knowledge and options. The participation rate is 40 per cent up on 2010 and is expected to remain strong as more players see the benefits their peers gain.

The diversity of the program is definitely part of the attraction with players choosing to undertake work within large banks and financial institutions, to horse racing stables, all the way through to working at the Zoo and with Victoria Police.

Next Goal Work Placements for 2011 Club

Player Name

Employer Name

Job Description

Adelaide

David Mackay

PMY Consulting

Sport Management

Carlton

Marcus Davies

Victorian Police Academy

Police Force

Collingwood

Leigh Brown

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

Fremantle

Greg Broughton

Newbury Elite Plumbing and Gas

Plumbing

Geelong

Mathew Stokes

Cotton On Foundation

Business Operations

Geelong

Marcus Drum

Geelong Falcons TAC U/18’s

Player Welfare Services

Geelong

Steven Motlop

Western Sheetmetal Insulation and Asbestos Removal

Boiler Making

Gold Coast

Sam Iles

Alto Cucina & Bar

Hospitality (Cafe)

Gold Coast

Charles Dixon

Mercedes - Benz Brisbane

Automotive - Sales

Hawthorn

Isaac Smith

Patersons Securities Limited

Banking & Financial Services

North Melbourne

Benjamin Cunnington

Melbourne Fishing Charters

Business Operations - Fishing Charter

North Melbourne

Liam Anthony

Tennis Australia

Events / Player Management / Marketing

North Melbourne

Scott Thompson

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Banking

North Melbourne

Ed Lower

Strategic Financial Planning Australia

Finance

Port Adelaide

Dom Cassisi

Oracle Lending Solutions

Mortgage Broker

Port Adelaide

Kane Cornes

Harris Real Estate Pty Ltd

Real Estate

Port Adelaide

Dean Brogan

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

Richmond

Benjamin Nason

Whitelion/AFL SportsReady

Youth Mentoring

Richmond

David Gourdis

The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens

Agriculture & Animals

Richmond

Mitchell Farmer

DD’s Synthetic Turf

Trades & Services

Richmond

Robin Nahas

Guardian Medical Pty Ltd

Business Operations - Medical

Richmond

Kelvin Moore

Victoria Police Academy

Police Force

Richmond

Bradley Miller

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

Richmond

Chris Newman

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

St Kilda

Farren Ray

Victorian Institute of Sport Limited

Sports and Exercise Industry

St Kilda

Tom Curren

Dandenong Basketball

Sport and Recreation

St Kilda

Arryn Siposs

Southern Football League

Sport and Recreation

St Kilda

Stephen Milne

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

Sydney

Ryan O’Keefe

Cloudy Bay Fish Co

Food Services- Chef

Sydney

Andrejs Everitt

Insight Projects Pty Ltd

Interior Decoration and Design

Sydney

Ted Richards

Citigroup Pty Limited

Banking & Financial Services

Sydney

Michael Pyke

Citigroup Pty Limited

Banking & Financial Services

Sydney

Ben McGlynn

APD Building Pty Ltd

Construction / Architecture & Interiors

Sydney

Lewis Roberts-Thomson

Coca-Cola Amatil

Marketing

West Coast Eagles

Patrick McGinnity

Heron Todd White

Property / Real Estate

Western Bulldogs

Nathan Djerrkura

Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV)

Sport & Recreation

Western Bulldogs

Daniel Giansiracusa

AFL Coaches Association

Next Coach

Past Player

Brad Howard

Oakley South Pacific

Sports Marketing and Sales

Past Player

Nick Smith

GXY Search

HR, Recruitment & Training

Past Player

Tristan Francis

Ball Brands Pty Ltd

Sales- Sports Industry

CAREER TRANSITION & EDUCATION

9


Case study – NEXT GOAL Tigers, reptiles and frogs working in harmony Richmond Tiger David Gourdis has always had a keen interest in working with animals, and when his AFL Players’ Association PDRM Brett Johnson suggested bringing that to life through the Next Goal program by working at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Gourdis jumped at the opportunity. “I have always had a passion for natural history and studying animals. I find reptiles and frogs particularly interesting because they are virtually unchanged over millions of years,” Gourdis said. “It was a real highlight to work with the Corroboree frogs – a critically endangered species which the Melbourne Zoo has had a significant impact on helping save through breeding programs. “Being able to focus on something I’m interested in away from football certainly was refreshing and a great way to break up the week. Longer–term, I’d like to study in environmental science and become a researcher or a conservation biologist.”

Next Coach Now in its third year, the Next Coach program still boasts an incredible 100 per cent success rate of turning graduates into working coaches. Since its inception, every player that has completed the program has successfully moved into an AFL coaching position once their playing career has finished. The latest success story is retired 2011 Collingwood grand-finalist Leigh Brown who has accepted a forwards coaching role at the Melbourne Football Club.

David Gourdis at the Royal Melbourne Zoo.

Many believe that Brown could have continued playing at the top level, however inspired by coaching guru David Wheadon, Brown decided the time was right to sink his teeth into coaching at the elite level. The Next Coach program covers nine different coaching topics including understanding opposition analysis, developing players, understanding coaching principles and tactics and importantly, developing your own game plan. Players are encouraged to use the insights they gain from the program to develop their own coaching philosophy.

“I think people management and teaching skills are central to being a successful coach so that is a key focus of what I teach the guys that undertake this course,” Wheadon said. “It’s also important to be able to learn from other coaches in other systems, so I encourage the players to analyse the elite coaches from around the world. Understanding those fundamentals of others’ successes will help players undertaking the Next Coach program to develop their own coaching philosophy.”

Next Coach Participant

Year Undertaken

Current Status

Adam Simpson

Next Coach 2009

Assistant Coach – Hawthorn FC

Shane O’Bree

Next Coach 2010

Assistant Coach – Gold Coast FC

Simon Goodwin

Next Coach 2010

Assistant Coach – Essendon FC

Steven King

Next Coach 2010

Assistant Coach – Western Bulldogs FC

Brady Rawlings

Next Coach 2010

Assistant Coach – North Melbourne FC

Michael Doughty

Next Coach 2010

Current Player

Dustin Fletcher

Next Coach 2010

Current Player

Ryan O’Keefe

Next Coach 2010

Current Player

Leigh Brown

Next Coach 2011

Assistant Coach – Melbourne FC

Daniel Giansiracusa

Next Coach 2011

Current Player

Brad Miller

Next Coach 2011

Current Player

Chris Newman

Next Coach 2011

Current Player

Stephen Milne

Next Coach 2011

Current Player

Dean Brogan

Next Coach 2011

Current Player/Assistant Coach - GWS

10


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

The Bombers helping young kids fly high.

The Eagles boys took part in the Football Apprenticeship.

David Wheadon shares his knowledge with the Next Coach class of 2011.

Case study – LEIGH BROWN Leigh Brown becomes the Next Coach

“If you are going to coach, this course is a must.” – Leigh Brown 

The Next Coach program has prepared me to step straight from playing into coaching. It has given me knowledge, confidence and experience that will make the transition a lot easier and smoother. Working one-on-one with David Wheadon was a highlight for me, as his experiences and knowledge allow the course to be educational as well as challenging and fun. David is heavily focused on the importance of people management and relationships and the course is more than just learning about being an AFL coach, it is about understanding the principles of coaching which can be applied universally. We studied elite coaches from around the world and began to understand why they are successful and from this began to develop our own coaching philosophy. In my opinion, this course gave me a distinct advantage over others applying for new coaching roles as I left with insight and knowledge into the skills required to be an assistant development coach at any level.  I’d absolutely recommend Next Coach to other prospective coaches as it has been invaluable to me. If you are going to coach, this course is a must. 

Leigh Brown in his new role with the demons.

CAREER TRANSITION & EDUCATION

11


Chance Bateman and Carl Peterson.

Sporting Trade Skills Footy is a hands-on game and as such, a lot of our members want to turn their hand to traditional trades off-field. We are helping them achieve this through the Sporting Trade Skills program, a specifically designed course which allows AFL players to undertake traditional trade apprenticeships that work around their busy football schedules. Run in conjunction with AFL SportsReady, there were 29 AFL players engaged in trade apprenticeships in 2011. This was made up of: 17 Carpentry Apprenticeships 4 Landscaping Apprenticeships 2 Cabinet Making Apprenticeships 3 Plumbing Apprenticeships 1 Building and Construction Apprenticeship 1 Electrical Apprenticeship 1 Hospitality Apprenticeship

The Business Mentors pilot program is designed to connect athletes with mentors who can help with the transition into owning a small business. Carlton’s Setanta O’hAilpin participated in the pilot program to further develop his plan to launch an Irish Pub in Melbourne. His mentor was businessman and owner of the Clarendon Hotel in Melbourne, Cary Stynes. The program began in May with an initial introduction and then required a minimum 40 contact hours of initial planning, ensuring Setanta was fully prepared to maximise his access to his mentor. Since completion of the program, Setanta has taken the opportunity to work and study the operational management of the Clarendon Hotel to enhance his understanding and appreciation of all facets of running a bar. “I’m grateful I was able to get this opportunity to trial something I’ve always been interested in doing after football. It’s enabled me to be well-prepared for my time out of the game and I will be able to hit the ground running with the next phase of my life,” said Setanta. Essendon’s Mark McVeigh undertook the Media Mentors pilot, which is designed to provide players who have a genuine interest in pursuing a media career with a chance to develop practical workplace skills. Mark said the experience had helped refine his particular interest areas of working in the media.

“I really enjoyed getting a deeper understanding of the preparation that occurs with both TV and radio. When you are a player and go on something like The Footy Show you really just go out there and everything is organised for you and you give your own opinion. What this program enabled me to do was get a full run down prior to the show of the topics that may arise so I could formulate an opinion and get more involved with conversations with other panelists,” said Mark. “The other great thing was that after each session the guys would give me a full appraisal of how I went and critique my performance so I could go away, review and improve. General Manager of Player Development Steve Alessio said the pilot was not a media training course but rather was similar to the Next Coach program in that it was specifically designed for those who have demonstrated a genuine interest in pursuing a career in the media.

“… after each session the guys would give me a full appraisal of how I went and critique my performance so I could go away, review and improve.” – Mark McVeigh

Pilot Programs 2011 The AFL Players’ Association is always looking to develop and deliver new and progressive programs for our members to cater to their evolving needs and interests. In 2011, two new career transition programs were trialled – the Business Mentor and Media Mentor programs.

“It’s enabled me to be well prepared for my time out of the game…” – Setanta O’Hailpin

12

Cary Stynes and Setanta O’hAilpin.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

Player QUALIFICATIONS Qualification

No. of Players

Masters

19

Executive Certificate

2 196

Bachelor Advanced Diploma

3

Diploma

27

Professional Qualification

30

TAFE – Certificate 4

101

TAFE – Certificate 3

48

Short Course

68

Education Grants AFL players submitted a record number of applications for Education and Training Grants in 2011. With 497 applications (up 24 per cent from 2010), players’ commitment to educational pursuits in addition to their AFL careers has never been greater. General Manager of Player Development Steve Alessio said the increase highlights that a greater number of players are realising the importance of being involved in Education and Training. “It is hard enough to step into the workforce as an ex-player with limited work place experience, so it’s great to see players taking advantage of these opportunities and we encourage all our members to think of their future. The reality is that one day the career of an AFL Player will come to an end. For some players the end is planned and part of a smooth transition as they exit the game. However for others, whether through injury or poor form, the end can come a lot earlier than expected, sometimes leading to difficult times for a player who may have limited educational and vocational opportunities due to poor planning or preparation,” said Alessio.

“The study trends of our current group of players indicate that the majority under 21 years of age tend to complete courses at the TAFE level. These young players tend to undertake a lighter study workload in their early years until they are comfortable with the demands of life as a professional AFL player. Whereas the majority of the remaining applications relate to players undertaking Tertiary undergraduate degrees typically in the areas of business, commerce, sports management and finance.” “AFL players acknowledge the courses they undertake will be on a part-time basis because of the time constraints of an AFL career. That is why the AFL Players’ Association continues to fund AFL players’ education needs up to three years after their careers have ended, which allows the player to undertake a full-time load of subjects to finalise their studies.” Computer Grants They’re in every workplace, classroom and just about every home around the country, and they’re a vital modern-day tool for connecting and working with the world around us – computers. Proper access to technology is an increasingly important part of enabling players to undertake meaningful study or workplace activity and it’s also increasingly allowing them to interact in new ways with their club and fans. In line with the growing impact of technology on the lives of players, the AFL Players’ Association has boosted its player support in this area, upping the allocation of computer grants by more than 20 per cent from 2010. Literacy and Numeracy In 2011, the AFL Players Association introduced a new screening measure to

Education grants comparison by player type

2010

2011 207

282 95

46 3

5

Veteran

30

23 Rookie

Senior List

53

15

Past Rookie

Past Player

TUTORING SERVICES

2010

2011 148

33

186

30

Players receiving tutoring

Number of tutoring sessions

more accurately identify the Literacy and Numeracy capabilities of the 128 first year players and importantly help provide early detection of any players who may benefit from assistance in this all important area. This year the Association adopted the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Vocational Indicator (VI) as it has been proven to be a more effective tool for identifying the Literacy and Numeracy needs of players. This is crucially important and helps the PA provide more targeted response plans for players who have improvement areas we must address. Of the 128 players tested, those who were identified as benefiting from further assistance completed a more detailed secondary assessment that provides vital information on their performance regarding speech and language, reading, mathematics, processing speed and memory. Through this program we are providing players with tailored personal learning plans to hone in on more specific areas of need and the other advantage is the early detection which provides longer periods of intervention support and ultimately leads to more effective programs and more confident and capable players. The AFL Players’ Association is a pioneer in the use of this testing for elite athletes. Sporting organisations realise the importance of literacy and numeracy on a player’s professional and personal wellbeing and therefore the introduction of this program has generated significant interest from other codes looking to follow suit. Looking towards the future, the AFL Players’ Association recognises this as a key area for player support and improvement and is currently developing a season-long Literacy and Numeracy program.

CAREER TRANSITION & EDUCATION

13


Young Bulldogs Luke Dahlhaus and Tom Hill learning more about the Football Apprenticeship program.

Education & Career Advice The AFL Players’ Association continue to see a strong demand from players for advice around education and career planning. Players often self refer for this advice during the PDRM’s regular chat or fortnightly visits to the club. Alternatively, club Player Development Managers work with the PA to identify players who wish to explore education and career options and are seeking further advice. The PDRM’s role ranges from assisting with CV preparation, to guidance on the range of support and opportunities available through the PA and external providers, to even helping players reschedule exams if they are required to fly interstate or have a work commitment preventing them attending an exam. PDRM John Hinge explains it is important for players to understand their overall goal and career path and how education or training can help because ultimately having that sense of balanced direction will assist them in their football as well. “We want players to explore their interests and focus on areas that will stimulate and challenge their thinking. The demands of playing AFL can make it challenging for study or other interests to be a priority, but it helps create a balance, on and off the field, which players actually need to help perform at peak levels.” In 2012, the Players’ Association will further develop this offering by implementing a one-on-one career development

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session within the Football Apprenticeship Program to ensure players are aware of the importance of preparing to transition out of football from the moment they enter the system. The meeting will be with the PDRM to help build the relationship and also assist players to develop good habits from early in their career. The PDRM’s will focus on providing potential pathway opportunities

“The strength of the PDRM’s lies in their ability to investigate a player’s motivations and then help expand or enhance their skill set.” – Brent staker

for players and provide advice on how this can become a reality. These meetings will expose players to the programs and opportunities offered by the PA which include work placements, diploma opportunities, higher levels of study, sporting trade skills programs and career and educational advice both during and post career. Throughout his career, Brent Staker has juggled study and football, beginning in Perth and now continuing his education in Brisbane. On several occasions he has received education and career advice from the PA which he says has helped him gain further education in his field of passion - business. “I’ve obtained a diploma in Management in Perth and am currently working on taking that to an Advanced Diploma in Brisbane,” said Staker. “I’ll also be looking to further my study at university level in 2012, along the lines of business studies/ commerce and this is an area I would like to follow in two to four years when my career concludes.” With his recent injury, Staker has had more time than usual to concentrate on his studies and says it is important for players to have a passion outside of football. Staker encourages players to seek education and career advice early in their career to help gain an important direction for their life after footy. “As a player you never know what can happen and with my recent injury I’ve had a lot more time to focus on my studies and it definitely drives home the importance of preparing for life after footy. I’ve spoken with the Players’ Association several times about my study and finances and they have helped me every step of the way,” said Staker.

AFL PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION PLAYER EDUCATION & CAREER ADVICE 2010

186

2011

165

Players receiving career planning advice

265

191

Number of career planning meetings

141

192

Players receiving education advice

226

250

Number of education advice meetings


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

“The strength of the PDRM’s lies in their ability to investigate a player’s motivations and then help expand or enhance their skill set to provide the player with the motivating factors to act upon and drive these decisions themselves.” Retired and Delisted Player Support The annual attrition rate of AFL players through either retirement or being delisted is approximately 20 per cent of the league – or around one in every five players. Once a player is officially retired or delisted the Players’ Association organise a face-to-face meeting within 48 hours to discuss the players entitlements, opportunities and future direction.

“To know that we are playing a key role in ensuring they’re supported to be well-prepared to make a successful transition on their way out of the game is very rewarding.” – Claire Mitchell-Taverner Previously these meetings were held by one Player Development Manager who met with around 120 players. Whereas now, with the restructure, PDRM’s have the advantage of working with the players from their allocated clubs (around 40 each) who they already have a stronger relationship with and established understanding of the player’s background and future ambitions. This is a great assistance during what can often be an emotional process. This meeting drives home the key message that players and rookies leaving the system are still a valued member of the PA family and there are many resources they can tap into that assist with the transition to life after footy. For rookies it’s another year of full services, for players the full service offering continues for three years after they finish and as a member of the AFL Players’ Alumni, there will be support on offer for life. Past players can access Education and Training Grants, Wellbeing Services, Career Counselling, Next Goal or Next Coach placements and tailored financial advice for three years after they retire. They can also access the Alumni benefits which include reimbursement of hospital excess fees,

Daniel Harris and Gary Ablett on the Gold Coast.

bulk-billing for medical consultations and professional development courses. Daniel Harris is one player who’s benefitted from having his Retired and Delisted (R & D) meeting this year up at the Gold Coast after deciding to retire from AFL football. “It’s great just to touch base and go through all the things that are still on

offer to support me in life after football,” he said. “Already I’ve taken some steps to get going on my business and I’ve met with Mark Porter for my Financial Health Check too. It’s good to know the PA’s still there to help us once we stop playing.”

“Our programs are designed to assist players WITH THEIR TRANSITION into the game, support them to prolong their football career and support their transition out of the game. Players that take ownership of their off-field career path, usually make the smoothest transition.” – Claire Mitchell-Taverner

Work

R&D CAREER PATHS

7%

Work & Footy

27%

Study & Footy

20%

Work, Study & Footy

21%

Own Business

3%

Own Business & Footy 3% Coaching

1%

Travel

1%

Unsure

7%

Re-drafted

9%

Re-rookied

1%

CAREER TRANSITION & EDUCATION

15


05. financial education & support The Players’ Association looks to educate players in all aspects of their life, and developing an understanding of financial strategies and providing advice on how players should manage their money is just another benefit of being a Players’ Association member. The Players’ Association provide independent financial education and assistance to players throughout their careers to ensure they develop good financial habits which they can carry with them for life. Enter former AFL players Mark Porter from Zest Wealth and Brad Wira from the Shadforth Financial Group. As former players and experienced financial advisers, Porter and Wira are perfectly positioned to understand how best to assist, advise and educate our members.

“The program aims to provide participants with the skills to understand their own financial affairs; maximising their financial position both now, throughout their football career and for years beyond the end of their playing days.” – Mark Porter Managing My Money – One First year players now undertake the Managing My Money Part One seminar as part of the Football Apprenticeship. In 2011, 117 players participated in this valuable exercise. The workshop educates players on the importance of having an accurate budget, understanding tax implications on their earnings, superannuation, and provides sound investment advice. Individual player meetings follow the seminar to personally tailor and track a

16

financial education & support

player’s financial plan to ensure they can meet their financial requirements and aspirations. Managing My Money – Two To ensure players continue with their financial education, the Players’ Association also offer the “Managing My Money – Two” seminars which provide a financial service targeted to players who have been in the system for five years or more and which caters to their advanced needs. These seminars help players prepare for the possibility of life without their footballing income and focus on assessing their current financial position and ensuring their financial affairs are in a manageable state. This program also focuses on developing a financial plan for transitioning out of the game. Advanced Member One-On-Ones Players who have been in the system for around a decade require specifically tailored sessions to prepare for their transition out of the game. Through these one-on-one sessions the players receive advice which will help them take any action required to make sure they are financially fit at the end of their careers. Both of the Managing My Money seminars and the Advanced Member oneon-ones provide players with the knowledge and tools to make the most of the financial opportunities they will be exposed to both during and after their career. Financial Healthchecks Players are increasingly realising the value of seeing Porter or Wira for a Financial Healthcheck. These health checks provide players not only with a thorough audit of

Brad Wira (left) and Mark Porter.

their financial situation, but also provide planning for the future with the creation of a two-year cash flow plan. In 2011, 47 players sought a Financial Healthcheck as they prepared for life after football, up from 31 players in 2010. Independent Financial Advice and Crisis Debt Management The Zest Wealth and Shadforth Group in conjunction with the AFL Players’ Association Wellbeing service provide comprehensive financial management techniques and support to help players overcome difficulties in this area and can provide independent financial advice on any issues related to money, investments, insurance and superannuation.

The Players’ Association provide independent financial education and assistance to players throughout their careers to ensure they develop good financial habits which they can carry with them for life.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

06. Wellbeing Services The wellbeing of AFL players is more in focus today than ever before. As with people in other workplaces, stress experienced by athletes can cause social, relational, psychological and physical problems. This can impact on a players’ ability to perform in their workplace, in their family and social lives, and it can limit their success. To help tackle this, Wellbeing Services Manager at the AFL Players’ Association Matti Clements has worked in conjunction with Brendan Pawsey from HealthMaps to develop the PlayWell project. This project was launched in 2011 and builds resilience in AFL players by helping them develop healthy coping strategies to deal with the inevitable stresses that come with the job.

This program will be implemented throughout a players first and second years of AFL football to help them develop crucial skills and understand the importance of mental and emotional development as well as physical fitness. As well as implementing this program, the Players’ Association have conducted significant research into mental health which is being used to develop further programs in the future. This research indicated that 43 percent of all players have sought guidance from a mental health professional at some point during their careers. It also found that players feel most comfortable talking with family, friends,

“From the AFL Players’ Association’s perspective, having players choosing to access these non-mandated services is a trend that should be applauded and we would encourage more players to make those choices.” – Matti Clements, Wellbeing Services Manager

2011 Top 5 Reasons for Referrals by Players Referral Reason Stress

teammates and other support staff about any problems they experience. Using this research the PA is working with Headspace to develop a Mental Health Literacy program specific to the needs of the playing group. The PA also continue to provide psychologists who are based around the country ready to provide a confidential service, whereby players can address personal issues in a controlled environment so that when they are at ‘work’ they can focus on their training and club requirements. Matti Clements believes that the stigma of seeing a psychologist is a thing of the past and players are now looking at mental health in the same way they would visit a physio or any other practitioner. “I believe that players are becoming more comfortable with the idea of seeing a psychologist and view it more as an enhancement service where they are seeking support and skill development to help manage stress and how to have healthy relationships before things turn,” said Clements.

15.6%

Past

No. of players 39

Anxiety/Depression

33

Relationship

30

Medical/Injury

13

Football Performance

12

Referrals by Player Status

Past Rookie

1.6%

Player

66.4%

Rookie

15.6%

Veteran

0.8%

Wellbeing Services

17


Wellbeing Research Research conducted in 2011 has indicated that over a player’s career:

33%

sought help from a Psychologist

8%

Workshops delivered for AFL Players in 2011 In 2011 we delivered a series of workshops to educate and support AFL Players on social issues they may face during their careers. End of Season Workshops The AFL Players’ Association believe there is nothing more powerful than advice from peer to peer. So this year we incorporated Heath Black’s personal story into the End of Season Workshop to provide an example of potential pitfalls and how to avoid these. Heath’s story, while confronting, provides important guidance for our members on the importance of looking after themselves and their teammates and encourages them to communicate with each other and seek professional help if and when required. During these sessions, Player Development Regional Managers also facilitate discussions between players around the strategies they will employ in

43% sought help from a counsellor

of current players have seen a mental health professional during their career

5%

sought help from a Psychiatrist

the off-season to ensure they avoid finding themselves in situations that are undesirable. Gambling Workshops Daniel Ward is another player who has shared his experiences as a problem gambler to provide guidance to young players and ensure they do not make the same mistakes. Similar to Heath Black’s approach, Daniel provided insight into his gambling downfall providing the players with a real life account of a peer who had learnt the dangers of gambling the hard way. Daniel’s presentation was accompanied by a discussion which is facilitated by our team of Player Development Regional Managers providing guidance on who players can contact if they need assistance with any of these areas. Sleep Management Workshop Players have irregular work hours often playing at night or travelling at times which Daniel Bell.

18

can make it difficult to get sufficient sleep to maintain peak athletic performance. Therefore the PA offers an interactive 45 minute workshop which arms players with a broader knowledge around the effects and use of sleep medication and importance of healthy sleep to their wellbeing and performance. Broad themes in the workshop included: • Benefits of a healthy sleep • Reasons for poor sleep and the effects of it on you; and • Psychological and behavioural strategies to aid sleep Club specific issues Management These sessions are administered as closed sessions which help players and clubs overcome any pressing issues that may be of concern and impacting the health of their players. Mental Health Education In 2011, several players took on ambassadorial roles with youth mental health organisation Headspace. Nick Duigan, Daniel Jackson and Robert Murphy worked with the organisation on a number of their campaigns, providing a more formal involvement from our Association than years past. Wellbeing Support – Northern Territory As a joint initiative between Indigenous and Multicultural Services and Wellbeing Services, Steven Raymond has been Heath Black.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

Group discussion is a crucial part of the end of season workshops.

stationed as a player support professional servicing the Northern Territory and our members. In a role implemented by the AFL Players’ Association, Raymond who is based in Darwin, fulfils a role which will not only provide one-on-one support to current and past players in the Northern Territory, but will also assist the Association in engaging with past players and linking these players to the services available through the Association. The Players’ Association anticipate this new role will become particularly important around the retirement and de-listment period at the end of the season and is another benefit available to players both during and after their careers.

WELLBEING WORKSHOPS 2011 – NUMBER OF CLUBS 2010

17

10

Gambling

17

14

9

4

End of year planning

Sleep

2011

1

2

Club specific issue

WORKSHOP

Playwell Program This year we introduced the ‘Playwell Program’ to our Football Apprenticeship program to ensure all first year players learn crucial skills to help them understand the importance of mental and emotional development as well as physical fitness. The PlayWell program is a six session program, four sessions for first years and two for second years, helping to provide a framework for vocational, social, emotional, physical and psychological health in order to develop the player both on and off the field.

It covers all areas of a players life such as relationships, coping with the pressures of being in an elite environment and relocation. It teaches players about what it means to be healthy focusing on having all-round health, including mental and emotional health as well as physical health. It also teaches players how to recognise the signs of stress, what happens to our body during this time and how to monitor this situation and react to the problem at the early stages.

Wellbeing Services

19


07. Cultural Diversity

In 2000, the AFL Players’ Association held the first Indigenous Players Camp, enabling players to inform the Association of the needs of Indigenous players and formulate better support services to this core group. A major outcome for this camp was the introduction of the Players’ Association Indigenous Support Program and the employment of a part-time Indigenous Liaison Manager, at the time filled by the legendary Michael Long. Eleven years on, the Association continues to deliver the biennial Indigenous Camp, working with players to further shape the support programs provided. The PA has also proudly announced Nadia Taib as the first full-time Indigenous and Multicultural Manager, taking over from Cory McGrath who had been working part-time between Indigenous Programs and Finance in a similar role since 2008. Her role is indicative of the PA’s increased commitment to this area, which has also been mirrored by the increased engagement from players with a record high 78 per cent of players in attendance at this year’s Indigenous Camp, up from 63 per cent in 2009.

Aaron Davey at the 2011 AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp.

This year has also seen significant achievements from Indigenous players, with the formation of the first ever Indigenous Advisory Board in Australian sport. The concept was first presented at the Indigenous camp and with its formation will allow the Advisory Board to meet regularly to discuss the AFL landscape for Indigenous players

NUMBER OF LISTED INDIGENOUS AFL PLAYERS 1997–2011

38

40

42

48

51

46

44

45

52

56

72

72

82

84

85

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

20

and work closely with the PA to provide Indigenous players with a voice on the programs and services which relate specifically to them. This year also saw a record 84 per cent of Indigenous players involved in study or professional development, with many enrolled in the PA supported courses tailored to provide culturally appropriate education and structured pathways for Indigenous players. And the focus is not only on Indigenous players. In 2011, the PA also incorporated multicultural players into our cultural development programs for the first time, recognising the increasing number of players from multicultural backgrounds within the AFL and aiming to provide services and programs catering to their cultural needs. Indigenous and Multicultural Player Survey In 2011 the Players’ Association added a new element to the cultural diversity program by including support for players from multicultural backgrounds, not solely Indigenous players.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

Clockwise from top: Israel Folau and Majak Daw; Cyril Rioli; A record 67 Indigenous Players attended this years camp.

The first step was to define what multicultural means to the Association and our members. This research determined that multicultural should be defined as “players who themselves or their parents are born overseas”. Based on this definition the Players’ Association has developed an Indigenous and Multicultural Player Survey to collect data about where the Association’s members and their families originate from. The results will be released in early 2012, driving further understanding and action regarding player support in this area. Indigenous stars make camp a success A record sixty-seven Indigenous AFL players attended the biennial camp in Sydney in January, which aims 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. The AFL Players’ Association seeks to empower players and a perfect example of this was the creation of the Indigenous

Players’ Advisory Board, which was an initiative driven by players and is a first of its kind in Australian Sport. Held in Sydney at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, Redfern, the theme of the three-day camp was legacy. The players were asked to consider what legacy they would like to develop for future players and the game. Attendees took part in development sessions and activities including career development, financial planning and a presentation by Dr Sean Gorman about his research and interviews with the members of the Indigenous Team of the Century. A cultural development program was also developed and facilitated by Mark Yettica-Paulson, a founding member of the National Indigenous Youth Movement

Jared Petrenko.

of Australia (NIYMA) and consultant in leadership management and community education. He encouraged the players to approach every situation with three simple themes in mind – be shameless, be fearless and be curious. Players provided insight into their beliefs about land, spirit and culture highlighting that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to Indigenous culture is a very misguided approach. And for the club Player Development Managers who were invited to attend the camp for the first time, this insight into Indigenous culture was invaluable and led to discussion around how clubs can better service the cultural requirements of their Indigenous players. Players also spoke about what is expected of them from a cultural

“We’re excited at the work the Indigenous Player Advisory Board is already undertaking to develop the next generation of Indigenous leaders within the AFL industry.” – Nadia Taib, Indigenous and Multicultural Manager CULTURAL DIVERSITY

21


perspective, from both 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. Phil Narkle from the West Coast Eagles, provided insight on this topic and spoke about assisting the club in understanding Indigenous culture in his role as the first-ever Indigenous Liaison Officer to be appointed at an AFL Football Club. Players also visited schools to run clinics for the local kids as well as spending time interacting with local communities in Redfern, Blacktown and Central Sydney. The Indigenous Camp is another example of the Players’ Association continual focus on education, development and empowering of our members and continues to prove one of the most pivotal opportunities for us to connect with our members and continue to improve the AFL landscape for Indigenous Players.

Indigenous Player Advisory Board At this year’s Indigenous Player Camp the concept of an Indigenous Player Advisory Board was raised for the first time with players voting for its immediate formation. This Advisory Board, the first of its kind in Australian sport, liaises directly with the Players’ Association and provides guidance on the development of programs and support services which directly relate to Indigenous players within the AFL. All current Indigenous players had the opportunity to provide an official expression of interest to be a member of the Indigenous Players’ Advisory Board. A national election saw the appointment of eight inaugural advisory members in Adam Goodes (the inaugural Chair of the Board), Xavier Clarke, Roger Hayden, Graham Johncock, Aaron Davey, Shaun Burgoyne, Chance Bateman and Nathan Lovett-Murray.

The Advisory Board met for the first time at the end of August and resolved to focus on three main areas: • Transition support available to players, as well as the concept of Indigenous Liaison Officers within clubs; • Racism and what leadership role the Advisory Board can play within the industry to speak out against racism on a national level; and • Exploring how to increase player engagement in education, training and skill development opportunities to put players in the best place to be employed post their AFL careers. The Advisory Board will meet a minimum of four times per year to discuss these areas among other areas of interest and will meet more often if they feel it is necessary to work towards achieving their outcomes.

Our team is made up of many colours Wear them with pride, not prejudice

We come from different backgrounds. We play for different teams. We are united by our great game. We strive for the respect of our fans and peers. There is no respect in racism. Top: Members of the Indigenous Players’ Advisory Board met in August. Above: The AFL Players’ Anti-Vilification Ad Campaign.

22


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

This Advisory Board provides guidance on the development of programs and support services which directly relate to Indigenous players within the AFL.

Aaron Davey is a member of the Inaugural Indigenous Players’ Advisory Board.

Indigenous AFL Player Education This is a key focus area of the new Indigenous Advisory Board, and one which the AFL Players’ Association continues to prioritise to ensure players receive every opportunity to reach their full potential in an academic environment. The PA continues to work with RMIT University, who deliver tailored courses which provide culturally appropriate education and structured pathways for Indigenous players. The Players’ Association has seen dramatic increases in the number of players involved in these courses since their conception in 2009. There were eight players enrolled in the inaugural year, whereas in 2011 there are 29 current players and four past Indigenous players participating nationally. 2011 was the first year that past players have enrolled in the course and is likely to open the door for many more in years to come. It was also the first year that players have undertaken the courses on a national scale, with enrolments in nearly every state in Australia. Courses include a Certificate II, Certificate III & IV in Education (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) and this year

Year

Number of Indigenous Players Studying

Number of Past Indigenous Players Studying

2009

8

-

2010

18

-

2011

29

4

saw one player also complete a Diploma in Education Support. These courses will help these players enter a range of education or employment opportunities and is a great success story for all involved. Furthermore we are seeing record growth in the number of Indigenous players studying across the board, with 84 per cent of Indigenous players involved in some form of professional development or education this year, an increase from 57 per cent in 2010.

“These players are not only contributing to their own personal development, but are doing so in a way that will allow many to support their communities down the track.” – Nadia Taib

Indigenous Liaison Officer – West Coast Eagles In 2009, former West Coast Eagle player Phil Narkle became the first-ever Indigenous Liaison Officer to be appointed at an AFL club, blazing a trail for other clubs to follow. He shared his wisdom at this year’s Indigenous Camp speaking about the importance of Indigenous players meeting their family’s cultural expectations, which led to an eye-opening discussion of the ceremonial duties such as attending funerals that Indigenous players need to fulfil. This was just one example of the kind of education and challenges that Phil has helped educate the Eagles on and highlighted why he believes his role may one day be seen across the entire industry. His breakthrough role at the Eagles caught the interest of the Indigenous Player Advisory Board, which has invited Phil to present on his role, the impact he’s having and how that might be able to be expanded through to other clubs.

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

23


08. AFL Players’ Alumni When a player hangs up the boots he enters an elite club of men who have played VFL/AFL football at the highest level. In 2011, AFL Players’ Alumni membership was introduced for every player who has played at least one VFL/AFL game during their career. The Alumni recognises past players’ contribution to the game and provides members with a lifelong support network.

“The AFL Players’ Association recognises the contribution all past players have made to this great game. We understand that in the past there wasn’t the support or network to assist players with their transition from a VFL/AFL career. Membership is available to anyone who has played a single game of VFL or AFL for a one-off fee of only $50, with benefits ranging across the areas of health and wellbeing, financial prosperity, continuing education and social connections,” General Manager of Player Development Steve Alessio said.

Steve Alessio.

24

“The Alumni is largely about connecting players who have played at the elite level and to encourage social gatherings for members from all AFL clubs,” said Alessio. Past Player Advisory Board Members Our Past Player Advisory Board consists of Simon Madden (Chairman), Barry Capuano, Frank Goode, Brad Wira, Michael Perry, James Clement, Matthew Liptak, Paul DiMattina, Marcus Kennedy and Steven Alessio.

“The Alumni is largely about connecting players who have played at the elite level and to encourage social gatherings for members from all AFL clubs.” – STEVE ALESSIO


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

2011 benefits provided to Alumni members GEOFF PRYOR HARDSHIP FUND

Provides financial support to Alumni members who are experiencing financial difficulty in meeting health related expenses.

2010

2011

$27,422

$75,935

HEALTH INSURANCE EXCESS FUND

Payments paid to ease to the cost of hospital admissions. 2010

$55,574

2011

$44,207

PSYCH SERVICES for ALUMNI

Wellbeing network of psychologists that support Alumni members with any issue they may face during their everyday lives.

past player wellbeing referrals 2010

2011

14

21

Top: Hawthorn champions of the past are members of the Alumni. Top right: Lou Richards.

UWA RESEARCH 2011 OUA SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED

Open Universities Scholarships awarded to Alumni members to encourage them to be life long learners. In 2011, five scholarships were awarded. The winners were Marty Pask, Stephen Schwerdt, Adrian Fletcher, Rob ForsterKnight and Kris Massie.

A groundbreaking study that aims to compare the health and wellbeing of past AFL Players to general population statistics across all the health, wealth and other varied social indicators. The study commissioned by the AFL Players’ Association in conjunction with the University of Western Australia will provide an insight into the impact of playing elite level football on the current health and wellbeing of past players. Results for this study will be published in early 2012 with participation from over 800 players from all the different eras of football.

AFL PLAYERS’ ALUMNI

25


09. NEXT STEPS

Our pursuit to provide the best possible services and support to our members both present and past is the driving force behind everything we do. We will continue to work with the AFL and AFL Clubs to ensure our game attracts the best possible talent from around the world to play AFL due to all the benefits they will receive during and after their careers. There is no doubt the growth and expansion of the AFL has led to significant improvements in all areas of football, designed to maximise the on-field competitiveness of clubs. However, there is a growing trend of clubs recognising the link that bolstering off-field player development resources can actually have an on-field performance dividend. High performing clubs understand that investing in the behavioural, emotional and broader career aspirations of their players is creating a longer-lasting effect on good performance as opposed to the more traditional methods of conditioning an athlete. The trend suggests that the more you invest with a player in his life outside of his football circle, the more he is likely to perform at a higher level. Literacy and Numeracy There has been significant investment by the AFL Players’ Association in this area over the last three years. Our view is that players in our system who may be lacking the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that many of us may take for granted are not being given the opportunity to maximise their AFL careers. Other studies suggest that certain behavioural issues may be identified through good literacy and numeracy screening, leading to appropriate support programs established early in a player’s career. In 2012 the AFL Players’ Association will continue to invest strongly in this area for the benefit of players to ensure growth in the areas of accountability and structure, including the addition of both pre and post test diagnostics. Research will also be developed in 2012 to further investigate and invest in the areas of literacy and numeracy to ensure the Players’ Association continues to achieve best practice for its members.

26

NEXT STEPS

Professional Development Increased professionalism and greater time demands on AFL players requires dedicated blocks of time in the weekly schedules of clubs allowing players to pursue educational, vocational and business interests.

There is no doubt the growth and expansion of the AFL has led to significant improvements in all areas of football. The AFL Players’ Association aims to assist every player in building a second career plan through work placement, study or a professional trade. This will be a priority area of focus in 2012. Out Placement Services In 2012, the AFL Players’ Association is expanding on our Career Transition support services. We are currently in discussion with a number of service providers, who offer a

tailored transition recruitment service for all AFL players exiting the system. This service will be complemented by a re-vamped CV and job preparation offering ensuring each player has taken the opportunity to maximise their job prospects upon retirement. Expanded Wellbeing Services With the success of our 2011 Wellbeing program for all new draftees, 2012 will see the introduction of further Wellbeing education for our newest players, as well as middle tier and players who are coming toward the end of their careers. Each Wellbeing offering will tailored to the changing personal needs of AFL Players as they progress and mature as professional athletes. The existing Wellbeing program will be further enhanced with the implementation of a mindfulness program for third–fourth year players. Data collected by the AFL Players’ Association indicates that stress, anxiety, and relationship issues hinder optimal on field performance and the suite of wellbeing services, underpinned by qualitative and quantitative data will continue to address these issues. Next year promises to bring with it significant changes as we move to an expanded 18 team competition and approximately 850 AFL players. Our goal is to continue to push the boundaries of innovation and quality when it comes to ensuring every AFL player has the same opportunity to maximise their chance of success with their AFL dream.

Nick Dal Santo, Luke Ball, Leigh Montagna and Matthew Pavlich at this year’s Player BBQ.


AFL PLAYERS’ DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING REPORT 2011

10. Our partners in Player Development


AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION Sports House, Level 2, 375 Albert Road, Albert Park VICTORIA 3206 T: 03 9926 1356 F: 03 9926 1350 www.aflplayers.com.au


2011 Development and Wellbeing Report