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Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause


It's pleasing to be able to report that former AFL Commissioner and football visionary Colin Carter continues to push the international cause despite moving back to "clubland" as Geelong Cats President.

Carter was instrumental in the emergence of the Australian Football League, with his 1985 Blue Book laying the path to a national competition, which along with the 2001 Carter Report into game development provide most of the pillars on which the League is based.  Unfortunately his push for international development and in particular a bigger South African investment has not swayed the AFL Commission sufficiently to invest large enough sums to make the dreams a reality.  AFL South Africa does continue to grow, as does international footy, but the trajectory right now suggests none of us will live to see semi-pro leagues outside of Australia or an international side ever competitive against an All-Australian side.

So it's good that Carter, a very accomplished individual outside football as well, is still advocating for an acceleration in investment.  Most involved in international football know the AFL commitment has grown overall over the last decade, but it ebbs and flows, it changes direction, it focuses on talent identification and development and on sustainability (a worthy goal) but it never really quite invests enough in any one spot for critical mass to see a true explosion.

This author, whilst uncomfortable about "picking winners" or worse "picking favourites", has slowly come to the realisation that the trajectory is unacceptably low, and in reality there will not be major money spent across all international programs.  So perhaps the best chance for the game internationally is for one or two major foci and if they can make a quantum leap forward then the confidence and blueprint will be there to be applied to other regions.  Personally this means maintaining the current program but then making the investment of an extra few million into one or two regions.  The most obvious would seem to be New Zealand with a view to an AFL club there by around 2030, South Africa with a focus on mass participation, and perhaps additional support for AFL Europe where so many countries (wealthy and closely situated) have taken up the game.  This of course begs for a backlash from Asia or North America or the rest of the Pacific.  But something has to change.

Back to Colin Carter.  You can read more of his thoughts on international footy in International clubs in AFL by 2032? and Carter on football vision, but his most recent venture is a letter to AFL Commission Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and CEO Gillon McLachlan.  Jon Pierik in the The Age writes that the Cats chief calls for overhaul of AFL's international agenda.  It discusses the AFL's modest efforts to stoke the sport internationally, cites lost opportunities and makes a specific plea to support South Africa.

"Despite obvious problems, Africa is increasingly seen as the next frontier of great opportunity. World Bank, IMF [International Monetary Fund] and investor assessments are positive," Carter says.

As one of Australia's sharpest business minds, and having played a key role in the transformation of the then VFL into the AFL, Carter says league bosses must confront a major question.

"Our's is arguably the oldest football competition in the world and we believe that we have the 'best game' in the world. And so, the confronting question is this: if all of this is true, why is our game only played in a few states at the bottom of Australiaω! What went wrongω"

Carter pointed to governance issues as the reasons for the sport losing "strongholds" in the ACT and Papua New Guinea, while also referencing the eventual death of a New Zealand competition in the early 1900s and what was once a "flourishing competition in South Africa built on the many soldiers who served there during the Boer War".

 "I am a believer in our northern states expansion — it is crucial for our future — but for a fraction of the cost we could also, over the next 30 years, build a participation base in South Africa that is larger than our markets in WA and SA," Carter said.

"If we could spend say $2 million to $3 million per year in South Africa plus double that in sponsorships — and manage it with discipline — it would have more impact than spending $30 million to $50 million per year in our northern states.

"The point is that South Africa is a truly unique opportunity and not to be confused with the other international opportunities. Can we start to take it seriously?

"Imagine in 2030 having several million people playing our game down there and following the Cape Town team in the AFL."

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Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause
Authored by: Harley Vague on Wednesday, March 04 2015 @ 05:28 am ACDT

I agree totally with the sentiments expressed. The AFL has lifted it's game immensely in the last decade but it has mostly been AFL-centric. i.e. to generate AFL players or promote the business of the AFL. NZ has seen a top to bottom approach with AFL games, school programs and other programs. That's very encouraging for NZ but costly to replicate in more countries. This is where IMO second tier competitions could become involved. WAFL clubs could play competition games in the RSA and adopt an O/S club at a fraction of the cost of an AFL game. The NEAFL needs to be the pathway for PNG and NZ teams Overall I believe that the constant comparison of standards wrt Australia is a distraction from the importance of events like the International Cup.

Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause
Authored by: Cam Homes on Wednesday, March 04 2015 @ 02:06 pm ACDT

You're spot on Harley.
Too AFL-centric and seemingly to have this focus on getting teams from NZ and South Africa and elsewhere into the AFL competition by 2020 or 2030 or some date way off in the future.

The final statement in the article "Imagine in 2030 having several million people playing our game down there (South Africa) and following the Cape Town team in the AFL" actually says it all but also seriously misses the whole point.

Just "Imagine in 2020 or 2025 having a million people in South Africa and 30,000-40,000 people in each of Europe and USA and Canada, China and across the Pacific playing the game with another 5,000 - 10,000 in Japan, across South East Asia, India and elsewhere playing the game and the fans in those countries spending their money watching international matches like South Africa v Germany or Great Britain v USA or France v Indonesia or even Croatia v Queensland"

ANYHOW! Cape Town v Collingwood in Cape Town just ludicrous idea, its nigh on impossible leveraging Collingwood out of Victoria to play in Perth or Brisbane let alone Cape Town :-)

Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause
Authored by: Rory Slater on Wednesday, March 04 2015 @ 04:11 pm ACDT

........& what about his ref to both the ACT & PNG?
I continue to make a case for demographics i.e. ours that have suffered from the AFL's expedient neglect of governance - and NO, GWS is NOT a Canberra team!
This is more to do with the bankers criteria to grow the code in those meritoriously undeserving markets i.e. NZ at our expedience. It is time that our domestic markets were rewarded with their own stand alone AFL brands. Canberra has over 100 years of footy heritage and an honour board to boot while it is far from a lost cause. I have always advocated PNG as a focus for any international expansion as their raw talent leaves NZ for dead as does Saffa but let us 1st ensure that the code is truly national before going down the path of plonking Australian teams in markets, that have absolutely no grass roots or groundswell of support. NZ is all about television revenue and a leg up for St Kilda which are is financial strife, suffering at the hands of an increasing disenfranchised supporter base which is partially due to it selling games to Wellington rather than regionally and or domestically.
It should also be noted that NZ's footy pedigree leading up to the 1900's was almost exclusively patronised by Australians - that is why it ceased so abruptly. So it is an abberation and an exercise in gross hyperbole to be selling this to the public based on any supposed heritage and cultural affinity NZ had for our game - they did not and still do not.

Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause
Authored by: Harley Vague on Wednesday, March 04 2015 @ 09:24 pm ACDT

Yes Rory, he's a bit awry wrt ACT, PNG and NZ history. They had the opportunity to establish a Canberra team before other codes did. PNG followed TV and NZ was a mixture of circumstances.

Colin Carter keeps crusading for the cause
Authored by: Harley Vague on Wednesday, March 04 2015 @ 09:44 pm ACDT
Here is the Age's take on the article. http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news...3ur0z.html . Again it's the writer's view that we should invest in the RSA to produce an AFL side and not just for the greater benefit of football. He also points to the large investment already made in Australia but fails to understand that the money has already been spent - that hopefully we are at the stage of seeing returns and the investment is non-refundable.