Meet Bram Cotton, AFL Canada's new Manager of Football Development
Niagara Ontario local Bram Cotton has joined AFL Canada as our first full-time staff.
As the new Manager of Football Development, Cotton will bring more than 15 years' sport management experience to the role.
"I am excited to be a part of developing an exciting game in Canada and introducing it to more Canadians coast to coast," Cotton said.
"I have worked in sport management in rugby at the provincial and national levels, professional golf, and sport tourism.
"With experience and contacts at the national and provincial levels in Canada for best practices and connections, I hope to grow the game through increased resources, exposure and contacts with key stakeholders in sport in Canada."
Like most Canadians, Cotton has a deep love of contact sports, but the father of two had limited knowledge of Australian Rules football before applying for the job.
"Truthfully, I knew very little other than Mike Pyke making the transition from a Canadian national rugby athlete to an AFL player. But sport administration in Canada is very similar from sport to sport with different nuances," he said.
"When I took up rugby as a teenager it seemed chaotic, then organized chaos, then a blast and a sport I have loved ever since – and I think AFL will be the same to me.
"I am very much looking forward to working with the board, provinces, clubs, partners and other stakeholders to grow the sport and enhance it here in Canada."
AFL Canada president Lachlan Griffiths said that Cotton's experience really stood out among the 250 applicants who applied for the AFL-funded position.
"We were inundated with interest for this position, which in some ways was a great problem to have. It was really pleasing to see how much interest and passion there exists for the sport in this country," he said.
"What separated Bram was his extensive experience in sport organizations that are more mature and developed than AFL Canada.
"This experience will help us fast track our own growth and enable us to capitalize on some of the great work that's already been done over the past 30 years in growing the game in this country."
Griffiths said the new position would focus on developing and delivering growth and development projects and to help AFL Canada gain provincial and national recognition.
"Our current board has taken some great strides to build policies and develop partnerships to support our future growth, but to take the next step in our growth we needed more help. The AFL also recognized the opportunities that exist for Footy in Canada and we are thankful for their support that has allowed us to fund our first full-time position," he said.
"One of Bram’s first priorities is helping AFL Canada and our largest provinces in getting recognized by the relevant provincial (and national) sporting bodies.
"Bram will also look into ways in which we can increase participation across the country, whether that be national recruiting concepts, new clubs in new regions or new teams in existing regions.
"Long-term, we hope Bram can help us lift the awareness of the sport, grow the participation and help us continue to develop through all stages of the LTAD, as well as develop coaches, umpires and administrators."