Contributed by: Brett Northey
The AFL is now 21 years old and to commemorate the milestone Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper pondered what the sport's top league might look like in 2032, another 21 years time.
The paper talked to well known international advocate Kevin Sheedy, Geelong President and former AFL Commissioner Colin Carter, and AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.
As much as the international footy community loves Sheed's enthusiasm, to read Demetriou suggesting the AFL may include clubs from outside of Australia was perhaps the the most significant aspect of the article. Many involved in international footy would love to see that happen, and Sheedy and Colin Carter (a long time advocate for South Africa) have suggested it before, but to have Demetriou state it as a possibility publicly could be considered quite a break through.
The AFL CEO was quoted as saying:
"If anybody had thought 21 years ago what the AFL looked like today, they would have been delusional and kidding themselves," Demetriou said. "Therefore, you'd hope in the next 21 years we've got the same 18 teams and if anything is going to happen, there will be more teams because that seems to be the pattern.
"The places that come to mind are Tasmania, northern Queensland and northern WA. And quite frankly, it's not beyond the realms of possibility as the world gets smaller that you could have a team based abroad. New Zealand or South Africa would be a chance."
It's not setting down a plan, but it's a start.
The past 5 years have seen the concept of taking Aussie Rules international far more seriously within the AFL, but Carter points out more needs to be done, especially if a 2032 timeline was to be met. Carter wrote a report for the VFL Commission in 1985 that became the blueprint for the national competition.
"I'm disappointed the AFL is not taking South Africa more seriously," he said, before advocating that the AFL increase the country's funding from around $200k annually to $2-3 million.
The article also hit all the right points to annoy some elements of the Australian football community, who always get upset by discussion of rule changes, overseas funding and a reduction in Melbourne clubs. Expect a backlash as this story scored the trifecta. In fact by just mentioning the AFL is 21 years old the article scores a "quaddie".
Read the full article by Scott Gullan at Experts predict a brave new world for the AFL.
Or you might recall our old friends at the Footy Wrap who went on to bigger things. Below is their lighter take on where footy might be in 2032 (apologies to New Zealand).
World Footy News