Contributed by: Adam Bennett - AFL England President
Footy in Britain has now spread well beyond the traditional heartland of London, with the development across the countries progressing steadily for several years. At a London league committee meeting, we caught up with Gavin Mahoney - the man tasked with taking footy in the capital to the next level. We discuss his impressive background in the sporting industry and his new role in the UK.
1. Do you play footy, if so for how long and where?
I have been playing Aussie Rules for 15 years now and have played at a quite a few clubs. I started my senior career at Ashwood, before having a go at VFL level with Port Melbourne. After 2 years at Port Melbourne I returned to Ashwood for another 2 years. I then accepted a job in the Northern Territory and played bush footy for a year with an Indigenous team called the Tennant Creek Eagles. When I returned home I played for St.Kilda City before venturing over to London and the UK.
2. What is your background in Sports?
When I first left school I deferred my Uni for a year and worked in a school as part of an AFL Traineeship, my role was to help coordinate the inter-schools sport competition. After that I went to Uni and studied Sports Management and Marketing. As for work, I was at Richmond FC (AFL) for 5 years, where I was part of the team that developed their junior development and junior marketing programs. In the Northern Territory I was working for an Indigenous Health Organisation as a Sport and Recreation Manager establishing programs to encourage people to participate in healthy lifestyles.
3. What will your role as GM have you me doing?
The focus of my role is to work with the AFL London teams to develop a sustainable long term model for Aussie Rules football in London initially, and then assisting with ongoing development right across the UK. Business models will be developed to ensure that both the league and clubs involved have a long term future. This includes the development of junior pathways to facilate the transition of juniors moving into the senior leagues.
AFL London, working under the banner of AFL Great Britain will look to work in conjunction with all other key stakeholders. One of my key roles will be to continue to build on the fantastic work carried out over the last 20 years by both AFL Great Britain (formerly British Australian Rules Football League - who have predominately focussed on senior competitions) and ARUK who over the last 5 years have done some great work in developing junior development programs. This will not only ensure that UK youths continue to participate in the game, but also key roles will involve obtaining funding and sponsorships for both the league and the clubs, substantially increasing the awarenesss of our great game in the UK media, coordinating events, and importantly working closely with the clubs to ensure clubs are sustainable long term.
4. What do you think your main challenges will be?
Initially the biggest challenge will be exposing people of London to the game of Aussie Rules. Obviously the market here is dominated by (association) football and rugby, so gaining attention will be difficult. Another challenge we face is being able to find suitable playing venues for schools and clubs to compete on.
5. What do you hope to achieve in this role?
My aim is to see a league that is strong and healthy occupying a niche market in the UK sports scene. Having full time staff employed in the role to deliver programs and as many UK youth playing the game in a structured format.
6. Are there any plans to extend your role outisde of London?
Because of our current resources, the scope of the role is limited to London, we see it as important to get the league and clubs around London strong and viable before developing other markets.
7. How has you position been arranged and financed?
Matt Glynn approached AFL London to formulate a service provider relationship through his events and promotions company Active Antipodean.com. Matt has had a long term involvement with Aussie Rules in London - BARFL General Manager from 1998-2001, as well as having a long term association with the West London Wildcats over last 13 years, and under this agreement the commercial rights to the league were sub contracted to ActiveAntipodean.com who then employed myself as the full time paid General Manager. The GM role has intially been funded via sponsorship generated by AA, and in the longer term will be via a combination of both sponsorship and sports funding. This arrangement was established to ensure a win-win situation for all parties, whereby AFL London and affiliated clubs are provided with a marketing and business development service to develop a long term sustainable model.
On behalf of the league, Gavin would like to thank the recently announced new 2009 sponsors for their fantastic support, namely VIBE Teachers, Aussieproperty.com, VB - the great Australian Beer, as well as our fantastic media partners, In London magazine, and the Australian Times.
For more information check out: www.afllondon.com.
World Footy News