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Luke Ball’s take on footy’s big issues

Player welfare, free agency and total player payments were among the topics of conversation for players who attended the annual Directors and Delegates conference held by the AFL Players’ Association recently. The conference provides an opportunity for the AFL Players’ board and club delegates to meet and discuss the big issues effecting the AFL industry.

AFL Players’ President Luke Ball attended the conference and recently spoke to FiveAA about the major points of discussion over the two-day conference, and his take on each of the big issues.

The Directors and Delegates conference

“There aren’t too many opportunities to get players to come from all over the country.

“It’s a good opportunity for guys just to catch up and have a chat in a more relaxed environment, without the pressure of games coming up, to discuss what’s happening at their club and all things that affect players this year and also into the future.”

Player Welfare

“Player welfare is always pretty high up on the agenda. It’s good having points of view from all over the country because there are issues affecting guys over in Fremantle that might be a little bit different to the guys from a Melbourne club.

“The PA are doing a power of work at the moment, they just released a program called MAX360 a couple of weeks ago. We spoke a lot about player welfare – making sure it’s not just about life after footy, but also maximising opportunities while you’re playing the game because we know there are a lot of them.”

Free Agency

“I think when that came up half way through this year the natural reaction for people was to be taken aback a bit and to not favour it without looking too far into it and the reasons why.

“Most if not all clubs have lost a free agent and gained one so, like a lot of things that have come in and are new in this industry, there can be a little hysteria around it before it settles a bit.

“Why was James Frawley able to go to the premiership side? Half the reason was because they lost the best player in the game the year before so they had room to move.

“There was also a bit of talk of reducing the years from eight to six to become a restricted free agent due to the average career still standing at six years. So we think guys who have put six years into a club are pretty well invested in the game and it’ll probably stop salary payments being really inflated.”

Player payments

“My view and the players’ point of view, and it’s been supported by Paul Marsh every time he’s spoken about it recently, is that all the players want is a fair and equitable representation of their contribution to the game.

“Even though I’m an ex-player now, I understand that there are several key stakeholders when it comes to AFL footy and I think as long as each is represented fairly then usually a good result is achieved.

“We want to make sure, through equalisation, all clubs are able to function really well and be attractive for all guys who put their name into the draft.”