The Breeding Grounds of AFL Footballers
Tuesday, June 26 2007 @ 10:17 am ACST
Contributed by: Sean Finlayson
This recent article in the Age features Ireland among several Australian states in a map as one of the breeding grounds for AFL footballers.
While WFN hopes that other countries such as Papua New Guinea and South Africa may join this list in the near future, it does help to bring home the potential for outside of Australia into the mainstream. According to Kevin Sheehan in a recent Herald Sun article at least, South Africa will be next to deliver AFL talent, while AFL footballer Mal Michael is convinced that it will be PNG.
To gather the information, the AFL asked their players to nominate the junior clubs where their careers first began, rather than the club that they were directly recruited from. As a result, some of these nominated clubs appear slightly differently to what appears on the AFL Footy Record. For example, some players start at a smaller club and later move to a stronger club, sometimes interstate.
For players outside of Australia, for the time being at least, it would be extremely unlikely to get drafted directly from an overseas club. Ireland is an exception, with Gaelic Football skills transferring across to Australian Rules. Even still, there are some exceptions, for example, Setanta Ó hAilpín was a hurling player.
With this in mind, some overseas players try their luck in Australia first, just like many players from places like the Northern Territory and Tasmania move to other states and leagues to get drafted.
Information like this map can help players to make the right decisions about which clubs to choose in order to get noticed. These clubs and leagues tend to have scouts in place who look there first. The same goes for international players trying their luck in Australia.
At the moment, there are a few international players in Australia playing at some of these clubs doing exactly that.
From an Australian perspective, it must be noted that the analysis doesn't really take into account demographic data. For example, Queensland and New South Wales, between them, represent half of Australia's population. The dominance of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia as breeding grounds for AFL footballers is clear, and Tasmania and the Northern Territory, considering their relatively tiny populations is an outstanding performance per capita. The growing number of AFL players produced by the game's growth states - Queensland and New South Wales in recent times is possibly humbled by the fact that Tasmania has produced more players than Sydney despite having around 1/10th of the population. The figures would tend to indicate the relevant strengths of the respective State of Origin sides and would indicate a strong case for splitting Victoria into two teams - Metro and Country, given the massive numbers of AFL players which originate there. These regions are still growing at a fast rate and according to the Herald Sun, once again Victorians are tipped to head the upcoming draft.
Some of the best clubs for producing players, according to the report are: Southport, Mt Gravatt (QLD) Pennant Hills (NSW), Southern Districts (NT), Sacred Heart College (SA), East Burwood (VIC) and several others.