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Opinion

The AFL needs a fresh approach to the pre-season

Wes P new author
Roar Rookie
31st December, 2019
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Wes P new author
Roar Rookie
31st December, 2019
7

The AFL sorely needs a pre-season competition now that AFLX has received the kiss of death.

A new idea is required.

The innovation that was the Escort Cup is a faded memory.

The NAB Cup was too good, too exacting and too onerous for our clubs to commit to, given its role as merely a curtain raiser to the regular season.

The space in our sports calendar demands filling. And why not?

It’s nice to ease into the main game, offering a glimpse of new, young and recycled talent we hope will take our clubs to that famous last Saturday in September.

After all, it’s about the players. So why not make it all about the players.

The AFL should come up with a simple abbreviated competition with one point of difference: no coaching.

AFLX

Would a coach-less AFL pre-season be any less of a circus than AFLX? (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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Give the players their heads and let them play. They probably do more preparation than an Apollo crew for a simple game of footy during the home-and-away campaign.

Leave the tracksuits in the change rooms and make them sweat!

So often contests are locked in a strategic stalemate with a rigid game plan and team values, only to come alive once fatigue sets in.

Allow individual brilliance and skills. Encourage risk and real leadership away from the coaches’ critical glare. Let them entertain us – after all, it’s sport and sport is meant to be fun.

The players would enjoy and embrace it. The fans certainly would.

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Ron Barassi infamously removed Malcolm Blight from the field after the latter slotted a brilliant left-foot banana goal, on the run and near the boundary.

The percentage play would be a kick to the goal square. He might have missed… but he didn’t.

This is the sort of excitement we could look forward to in a coach-less AFL pre-season competition.