Fans Players

Players’ Voice — Dougal Howard

Being given the opportunity to be an AFL Players’ Association delegate is one I’m excited about.

To be perfectly honest, I probably didn’t know too much about the AFLPA and the full extent of everything they offer the playing group before taking on the role as a delegate.

Spending a couple of days last week at the directors and delegates conference allowed me to develop a broader understanding of the services on hand and everything that goes into what they do for us as players.

For me, being a delegate provides a really good opportunity for me to do my bit for the playing group the and wider football community.

I really want to put my best foot forward for our playing group at Port Adelaide.

In the last 12 months I’ve developed a passion for the off-field side of things affecting AFL players.

It’s a massive part of what the AFLPA does but it’s also one of the key areas that I really want to drive at our club.

It’s really important to make the most of any opportunity that arises during your career.

As footballers we have the chance to meet people and create lasting networks.

Making the most of those opportunities during the short time that we do play footy really helps you develop yourself.

The guys who leave the game in a good place are not only the ones doing great stuff on the field, but off it as well.

The Player Development Managers are doing a great job at our club but I also think it’s about getting on the front foot.

In my role as a delegate I’d love to do a bit more by helping the young fellas make the most of the facilities and opportunities around them — whether that’s study or work placement — but making sure they’re doing something away from footy.

Being part of the directors and delegates conference has allowed me to develop an understanding of the different perspectives and operations of other AFL clubs.

You can tell the guys who have been delegates for a number of years — they’re always clearly outlining their points that they want to focus on going forward.

I’ve taken a bit more of a backseat now, learning and seeing what the job entails, but hopefully I can begin to drive that a bit more.

I’m open to learning from the older guys and bringing the ideas and issues they raise back to our playing group.

Although we’re undergoing a captaincy change at the Power now, the club is full of great leaders who have been big influences on my career.

Tom Jonas has been influential for me the past couple of years and playing alongside him has really helped me to develop both on and off the field.

Hopefully my life after football isn’t for a little bit but I’m thinking about the future.

I grew up on a farm near Wagga Wagga so my passion is agriculture and I’ve incorporated that into my study.

I’m completing an agri-business course that I’ll hopefully be able to work in after footy.

Moving from Wagga to Adelaide when I was drafted was a huge change but the club made everything so easy.

Right from the word go, the football club and the host family I moved in with have been great.

The environment here is unreal and I’ve made some really good friends, which was a key reason to re-signing this year.

The clubs in a really good place to be at the moment and hopefully we’ve got a big year ahead but for now, I’m ready to keep learning and aspire to be a leader of our club in the future.