Players from around the country gathered in Melbourne last week, with representatives from all 18 clubs attending the annual AFL Players’ Association Directors and Delegates conference.
The conference is a unique opportunity for the AFLPA players’ Executive to meet and discuss a range of important issues pertaining to players and the wider AFL industry.
— Sam Docherty (@DochertySam) December 4, 2015
AFLPA President, Matthew Pavlich said, “The Directors and Delegates conference is a great opportunity for all the guys across the competition to get together and discuss issues that impact us as a group. When it’s such a collaborative nature, it’s great to hear the different insights from each club and hear the variety of different opinions about what we can do better in the game.”
“It’s not necessarily about what can happen on the field… you can grow as an individual and grow not only within the game and become a better player, but become a better person off the field with that off-field development.” – Matthew Pavlich
A key component of the conference was the upcoming CBA, with all players being united in their view that the CBA remains the primary focus for the AFLPA.
A core element of the CBA is to deliver a deal that is better for the game and fairer for the players. All players agreed the next CBA negotiations need to deliver a fair share of industry revenue and a truly first class sporting workplace to players.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunities around wellbeing, mental health, off field development. It’s not necessarily about what can happen on the field, but from a players’ perspective you can grow as an individual and grow not only within the game and become a better player, but become a better person off the field with that off-field development.”
AFLPA CEO, Paul Marsh said, “the conference is a great opportunity to update the players on what’s going on at the AFL Players’ Association and in the industry more broadly.
“It’s also great to get their views on some of the issues we’ll be dealing with, so it’s a critical couple of days for us and we’ve got a fantastic turn out in players, which is great.
“We’re spending a fair bit of time talking about the next Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. We’ve just heard from Mark Evans from the AFL so he’s given us good context into their priorities and where the industry is at.
A number of constructive discussions took place amongst the playing group, with Marsh adding, “there’s been a lot of talk around the programs and services that we offer the players around education and training, around new gambling program we’re running, illicit drugs, all the types of issues that the players deal with.”
“I think the most important thing is that they understand the direction that we’re going, that they buy-in to the direction we’re going, and then they take it back to their teams so there is understanding. We are only as strong as the players and this is about educating them and making sure we’re all heading in the same direction.”
Other agenda items discussed were:
Competitive balance needs to remain a priority for the game, with the impact of the competitive balance changes introduced over the year needing to be monitored closely to determine whether they are having the desired effect.
Women’s football remains something the AFLPA continues to support and will continue to have discussions with the AFL and players on a proposed league.
Ongoing commitment to develop community and social leadership initiatives, including developing an extension of players’ personal financial investment in their chosen charity, Ladder.
Increased investment and emphasis on player development across the industry to ensure long term personal growth and wellbeing for all players – current and past.
Three new club delegates were also announced at the Directors and Delegates conference – Essendon’s Orazio Fantasia, Adam Tomlinson from GWS and Tom Lynch from Adelaide have all joined the body of delegates as one of two representatives from each AFL club, while Tom Nicholls (Gold Coast) and Alex Woodward (Hawthorn) represented their respective clubs.