More exposure needed for non-AFL states

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    The AFL takes a lot of pride in its status as the most entrenched of the football codes. But with the major drafts over for another year, I have been left wondering if it can truly lay claim to this status.

    Clay Cameron was the only Queensland player selected in the 2012 national draft, as a Gold Coast zone selection, while no New South Wales players got lucky on November 22.

    The numbers are better in the rookie draft, but it’s still been downhill since 2009, when nine Queenslanders were selected in the national draft.

    Broadbeach’s Andrew Boston, who was a runaway winner of the 2012 NEAFL Northern rising star and an Under-18 All-Australian, was overlooked, along with the rest of the northern talent.

    Boston and Northern Territory gun Jake Neade were the only two U-18 All-Australians this year from the northern states, with all the starting players from Victoria (nine), South Australia (six) and Western Australia (three). And yet, Boston still went through to the rookie draft.

    Three of the NT Thunder’s under-18 national championship side were taken either in the mini-draft or the main draft, with Neade (Port Adelaide), Jed Anderson (Hawthorn) and Dom Barry (Melbourne) making the grade.

    Of the All-Australians eligible for the draft, Boston was the only one without an AFL home on November 22.

    AFL Queensland Academies manager Mark Browning says he’s not worried about the lack of Queenslanders picked up, and I understand a lot of this is cyclical. However, when the AFL has put as much effort into promoting Queensland and NSW as development grounds, it’s a concern that talent is either not there or being overlooked.

    For the numbers to change, the AFL needs to focus on more than just engaging people in these markets. This is about engaging these markets with the rest of the nation.

    Ignoring for a second the fact that participation numbers in Western Sydney may not be entirely accurate, the game is growing in popularity in the fledgling areas due to the AFL’s work at increasing the profile of the game there.

    However, the talent that non-AFL states possess seems to be routinely missed by the traditional powerhouses.

    And by continuing to offer less exposure to these states, this will not change.

    Becoming a national game is about more than just plonking teams where AFL fans are in the minority, it’s about creating a valid alternative in terms of development and rising talent.

    The more players from these states that receive a chance to play in the AFL and the more exposure the NEAFL and NTFL competitions receive, the better the game will be at becoming truly national.

    The creation of the NEAFL conferences in 2010 was crucial to the development, but if they do not receive exposure on a national level then they will continue to suffer.

    Allowing these sides an even keel in the Foxtel Cup is important for this. In a bid to avoid blowouts, the Foxtel Cup will include two SANFL sides in 2013, while the NEAFL qualifiers will need to fight it out for the final two spots in the competition.

    This is despite the fact that plenty of non-NEAFL sides have been on the wrong end of blowouts and the inaugural winners, the NT Thunder, were a NEAFL side.

    With Foxtel Cup matches to air in primetime on Fox Footy, the northern states are once again being robbed of the exposure they need.

    If the AFL wants the game to grow, it needs to showcase the emerging markets to the wider AFL community, not just push the game on unexplored territories.

    Twitter: @bethknewman

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • Roar Guru

      December 12th 2012 @ 7:13am
      The_Wookie said | December 12th 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Couple of thigs.

      1) The Thunder were not the inaugural winners. The competition has been won by Williamstown and Claremont. The NT Thunder were bundled out in the quarterfinals in 2011 by East Perth, and were flogged by 88 points at Marrara Oval by a well undermanned PORT MELBOURNE. Morningside have been the best of the NEAFL teams in either season, beating Port Adelaide in the quarter finals of 2012 before taking a 10 goal loss from Werribee.

      2) Those two SANF sides will for the first time e the BEST two SANFL sides, not the bottom 3 as was previously the case. Norwod and West wont just cop it from a NEAFL side, they’ll slaughter them.

      Take a look at the wins by NEAFL: teams and it becomes clearer.

      2011 –
      Thunder d Morningside (both NEAFL clubs), thunder lose next match against East Perth by 6 points. Every other NEAFL/TFL club lost by an average of 70+ points.

      2012 –
      Morningside d Launcestion (NEAFL v TFL), Morningside go on to defeat Port Adelaide before getting flogged by Werribee
      Mt Gravatt d Sydney Hills (NEAFL v NEAFL), Mt Gravatt get slaughtered by Claremont by 88 points
      and the thunder? Port Melbourne flogged them in round 1 by miles.

      aside from one upset (by Morningside over Port), all NEAFL victories have ome against either NEAFL or TFL clubs. It makes sense then to at least give these clubs a half decent game against each other before being sent into the Lions den.

      2) This was a low year for drafting, many clubs passed on young talent especially in the rookie and psd drafts which is where many qld and nsw players get taken. It IS cyclical however and before long the AFL clubs will be back poaching the talent.

    • December 12th 2012 @ 7:44am
      Terra Dactel said | December 12th 2012 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      This also should take into account that the southern half of NSW is really an AFL state & what has it provided recently in AFL players? Mind you it’s not as if Tasmania is going gangbusters either. We should also acknowledge that even over past years when there has been players from non AFL states they mostly haven’t come from non AFL families but from one that has migrated north at some stage or been long time AFL families. For all the money put into the non AFL states it really isn’t showing much yet but let’s give it time. On the other hand the sport really has no choice but to put money into growing the game in NSW & Queensland if long term the game is to be well placed. Living off money from AFL states isn’t going to cut it unless the WA mining goes seriously big. But on Sixty Minutes last weekend it showed a lot of workers fly in from non AFL eastern states & leave their families behind instead of them migrating to WA and soaking up AFL.

      • December 12th 2012 @ 9:50am
        Brewski said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        The southern half of the state has recently provided 8 players to GWS, and Hawthorn through Bruest (Temora), Smith (coota), Suckling (Wagga) and a few others.

        Actually the last couple of years has seen AFL footballers out of the Riverina on the rise, and GWS working their zone will only see more.

        The truth of the matter is though that the northern states will generally be playing catch up, i can see a time when QLD will provide as amny draftees as SA, due to higher and growing population.

      • December 13th 2012 @ 10:23am
        Pete said | December 13th 2012 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        You must be using Apple Maps if you think the southern half of NSW is AFL country…

    • December 12th 2012 @ 9:06am
      Brewski said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Agree with Wookie, the drafting of QLD/NSW players is very cyclical, however, on the bright side, i would be interested to know when was the last time 5 players were drafted out of the Sydney AFL comp.

      •Dane Rampe (UNSW/ES Bulldogs to Sydney Swans)- pick 41 Rookie Draft
      •Craig Moller (Balmain, Sydney University to Fremantle)- pick 51 Rookie Draft
      •Daniel Robinson (St Ignatius, Riverview to Sydney Swans)- pick 57 Rookie Draft (Sydney Scholarship)
      •Brandon Jack (Pennant Hills to Sydney Swans)- pick 64 Rookie Draft (pre-selection, zone selection)
      •Sam Naismith (North Shore to Sydney Swans)- pick 65 Rookie Draft

      Interesting that Sam Naismith is from Gunnendah, and would have to be the first AFL player from that part of the world, who moved to Sydney to further his football, i think Gunnendah play in the Tamworth league.

      GWS picked up 2 kids from Wagga and Narrandera respectively, which is part of their zone, to go with 8 other players from NSW/ACT on their list.

      I think we will see many more northern states kids picked up through the academy system in the next few years, the 4 northern state clubs have them under lock and key ATM, and we are talking over a thousand kids here.

      • December 12th 2012 @ 4:11pm
        Doghouse said | December 12th 2012 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

        5 Swans rookies from Eastern suburbs (sorta) Im leaving out Jack because of his brother’s connection – does that mean Southern NSW boys have to go to GWS or it means they GWS have first choice. If thats the case what if the swans wanted a kid from Wagga that GWS didnt want? (Cunningham was dropped by the GWS and picked up by the Swans).

        • December 12th 2012 @ 5:16pm
          TC said | December 12th 2012 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          The first choice rule is more to do with their respective academies (which, as a general rule, follow the various zones).

          However, outside of the academy system, any club can draft any other player, and in fact the Swans did draft a player that GWS had decided not to pick (can’t remember his name) – that was last season.


    • December 12th 2012 @ 9:23am
      Sean said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Worth noting 7 NSW boys were taken in the pre-season and rookie drafts too.

    • December 12th 2012 @ 9:45am
      Australian Rules said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report

      As others have noted, it is cyclical…but I agree with this: “If the AFL wants the game to grow, it needs to showcase the emerging markets to the wider AFL community, not just push the game on unexplored territories.”

    • Roar Guru

      December 12th 2012 @ 9:46am
      Redb said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      The article also ignores the increased strength of the Victorian system which as gone up a gearin the past 5 or so years with a better pathway. The TAC Cup goes from strength to strength.

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