AFL player representatives from 17 of the 18 AFL clubs gathered in Torquay on Thursday and Friday for the annual directors and delegates conference.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Player Leader — the Role of the Delegate and Player Leaders.’
Led by AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh and AFLPA President Patrick Dangerfield, the directors and delegates discussed a number of issues including the future of the game, competition structure, the AFL Players Care program, the illicit drug policy and the player agent framework.
With a number of delegates retiring and transferring clubs, the conference provided an opportunity for new delegates to better understand their role and network with players and AFLPA staff.
Carlton’s Ed Curnow said having the opportunity to represent and support players on issues affecting them was a key reason for his involvement with the AFLPA and becoming a delegate.
“To be able to stick up to issues affecting players, especially around life balance, training and education, those are things that I feel passionately about,” he told AFLPlayers.com.au at the conference.
“Being part of those decisions is what I like about being part of this association.”
Curnow, who is a long-time delegate, said the opportunity to network with players from other clubs also provided an important forum to better understand the issues affecting all players in the game and help to develop a united playing group.
Adelaide’s Andy Otten agreed saying building a working partnership between players and AFLPA staff allowed for a united association.
Otten, who has been a delegate through two CBA negotiations, joined the Players’ Association to have a better understanding of the what happens behind the scenes.
“I wanted to help our group and be a voice for our playing group,” he told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“I think you’ve got some really educated players and some really educated staff coming through and together that has formed a really strong team.
“Together as a team we’ve been able to make massive changes, not only financially, but through education grants, transition and the injury and hardship fund.
“I think looking after everyone that has played AFL, not just current players, has been a bit of a legacy of this current group.”
There are two player delegates representing each AFL and AFLW team, which supports the 11-member player board.