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‘Study has helped when footy isn’t going well’

Matthew Spangher has been at university longer than he’s been on an AFL list.

For a 28-year-old premiership player in his 10th season in the system, it’s a lot of time dedicated to the classroom.

Executive Certificate in Player Development Applications now open – click here to apply

Spangher was “handy at school” and started university before he was selected by West Coast with pick No.34 in the 2005 National Draft.

He has completed a Business degree and is currently partway through his Masters in Sports Management.

“My footy career hasn’t always taken off. it’s been a little stop-start at times, so I have always had to have that commitment or plan away from the game” – Matt Spangher

“My footy career hasn’t always taken off, it’s been a little stop-start at times, so I have always had to have that commitment or plan away from the game,” Spangher told

“Study has also helped at times when footy isn’t going that well.

“I have been injured pretty regularly throughout my career and having life off-field being busy has helped at times.

“I have noticed this year in particular, when I have had a number of injury issues, that having meetings to go to and networking with people makes it more tolerable.”

As well as his long-term commitment to study at La Trobe University, Spangher last year took on the Executive Certificate in Player Development delivered by AFL SportsReady and the Players’ Association.

The course aims to educate and inform participants on current best practice models for developing athletes holistically in an elite sporting environment.

This is the focus for Player Development Managers at all 18 clubs, whose focus is on helping those on AFL lists develop as people, rather than footballers.

As well as a focus on the AFL environment, a core benefit of the course is that the skill-sets developed are also transferrable to other sports.

Spangher said the AFL’s understanding of the role player development can play in leading to better performances on the field had grown over his time in the game.

AFL Players’ GM Player Development, Brett Johnson, is a leading figure in the player development field.

“While player development is often perceived as a junior player in the overall football program or hierarchy, there has never been a better time to recognise its wider role,” Johnson said.

For more information about the Executive Certificate in Player Development, including subjects and course outline, please see below PDF.

Click here to apply.

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For more information, contact:

Marissa Fillipou
Player Development and Engagement Manager

Linda Imms
Education Projects Manager
Tel: 03 8413 3531

For more information on key areas of focus in Player Development, see below articles:
What is Max 360?
Why Player Development is key to success