AFL Victoria Review into Country Football
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou commissioned AFL Victoria chairman Peter Jackson to lead the review of the governance and structures of football across country Victoria to ensure they meet the AFL’s key development objectives.
Mr Demetriou said Victorian country football was critically important to the AFL with about 78,000 players or about 12 per cent of total players across Australia.
“I want to thank Peter Jackson and his team for all their work in doing this review to ensure we have in place the right structures and proper resources so that country football remains strong for generations to come,” Mr Demetriou said.
As well as 82 leagues, 702 clubs, 2,867 teams and 16,364 NAB AFL Auskick participants, country Victoria has provided 22 per cent of the draftees into the AFL competition since 1997.
Mr Jackson’s review of football in country Victoria follows similar reviews undertaken across the country to grow and strengthen the game at a regional level.
Mr Jackson said country football in Victoria needed a change of governance structures to provide greater strategic focus, more effective decision-making at a regional level and an investment of resources directly in regions.
“This is a great opportunity to grow the game in country Victoria by investing more resources where they are needed and work more closely with all our key stakeholders and partners across leagues and local councils.” he said.
The review made 25 recommendations. They include:
- Decentralise Authority – merge AFL Victoria and the Victorian Country Football League to achieve efficiencies in head office resources and eliminate duplication to free up funds to employ more resources directly in the regions
- Establish independent commissions in all regions representing stakeholders in the region with the authority to develop the strategic plan for the regions and make independent local decisions. There should be eight larger regions and five smaller regions. This would see a reduction from 82 league boards and 28 umpire association boards, thus making governance, strategic focus and decision-making much more effective.
- AFL Victoria to contribute funding to each larger regions towards employing a Region General Manager
- 14 Region Development Managers currently employed by AFL Victoria to be re-allocated under the supervision of the regions, responsible for the collaborative development of junior football and pathways, as well as greater engagement levels in NAB AFL Auskick and schools.
- Employ up to an additional 17 community and club development officers (CDOs) in all regions to complement the 4 Area Managers currently employed by VCFL; 21 in total directly supporting leagues and clubs in country football.
- The cash and assets of the VCFL to be transferred to AFL Victoria used as an initial fund for facilities grants to country regions
- Develop integrated statewide umpire and volunteer programs
- Develop a talent program to cater for young men 18-23 years old not initially drafted to the AFL in their final TAC Talent Program year
- Develop an integrated strategic relationship with Netball Victoria to strengthen and grow both sports in country Victoria
Mr Jackson said the recommendations were designed to put additional resources and greater responsibility for country football into country regions and have country people maintain authority for the governance of football in regions.
“They are not about a takeover of country football by the AFL or any other sole governing body. They are designed to provide a more strategic focus, more effective decision-making and greater collaboration in each region, something that does not exist at present, but something that is essential for the vibrancy of the game in the future,” he said.
Mr Jackson said volunteers were a key factor behind the historical success and sustainability of community football in Victoria.
“We all owe the volunteers and administrators who have put such a huge amount of their personal time and effort into the game a great debt of gratitude. They do it for the love of the game and certainly not for any personal financial return,” he said.
“I also want to thank all those volunteers, administrators and councils who made submissions to our review. Their input is appreciated and has formed an important part of this review.”
The review recommended an Implementation Project Team to be established to implement the strategy in time for the 2013 football season.