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AFL International Development plans

  • Monday, July 03 2006 @ 12:55 am ACST
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General News

Since the 2005 International Cup the Australian Football League has conducted an extensive review of how it approaches international development of the game. This has resulted in the appointment of a new high powered International Development Committee and five contact points within the AFL for the nominal five regions of Africa, America, Oceania, Asia and Europe. Other major revelations include confirmation of Melbourne as the likely 2008 International Cup venue, with a four year cycle thereafter, and hopes that the cost of attendance can be significantly offset.

Head of Game Development, David Matthews, issued a memo and plan to international affiliates and interested parties. When WFN received these documents it wasn't initially clear whether they were part of a draft plan or discussion paper. We've since clarified with Matthews that they are intended more as a framework in which the AFL intends to work with the international Australian Football community. Given the potential significance in the way this could accelerate the growth of football outside of Australia, and with the endorsement of the AFL, we have made the detail of the memo available, as well as the original document on the eight area plan, for all supporters and interested parties to download:


The AFL envisages eight core areas in which they can assist international footy programs develop. To summarise the template above, they are:

1. Participation Model - tailored to each market, from school through to national teams.
2. Partnerships - with government agencies and volunteers.
3. Funding model/multiplier of AFL funds - administration and resource grants, multipliers across partners etc.
4. Involvement of AFL clubs - non exlcusive rights granted to countries.
5. Calendar of events - AFL end of year trips, exhibitions, education.
6. International scholarship scheme and talent programs - AFL scholarships in age range 15 - 23, International Cup every 4 years.
7. Marketing and promotion - market overseas born players and track international rookies, widen AFL highlights distribution.
8. FTA, PAY TV and Internet - determine revenue markets versus free exposure markets, local language support for website.

The new committee consists of:

• David Matthews, General Manager – Game Development
• Dr Colin McLeod, General Manager – Marketing & Communications
• Kevin Sheehan, Talent & International Manager
• Andrew Catterall, Strategic Planner
• Dean Moore, Football Projects Manager
• Dean Warren, Participation Manager
• David Lever, Corporate Partners Manager
• Ben Amarfio, AFL Broadcasting, Publishing and New Media Manager
• Simon Lethlean, Business & Legal Affairs Manager
• Peter Schwab

The regional liaisons should allow greater access to the AFL structure and more assistance for each country. They are as follows:

Africa: South Africa Kevin Sheehan
America: USA Canada Kevin Sheehan
Oceania: Papua New Guinea New Zealand Nauru Samoa Fiji Tonga Lawrie Woodman
Asia: Japan China India Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Singapore Hong Kong Adrian Panozzo
Europe: Great Britain Spain Denmark Ireland Germany Sweden Czech Republic Simon Lethlean and Kevin Sheehan

Note: The AFL says it welcomes the development of relationships with countries not listed above.

In addition, Nick Hatzoglou (AFL Multicultural Coordinator) will consider how international strategies can link with relevant local communities.

Kirsten Eabry (AFL Development Events Manager) will be overseeing the management of the 2008 AFL International Cup with Kevin Sheehan. It is proposed to hold the event in Melbourne as part of the AFL's 150 year celebrations. The AFL is currently working on several partnerships with the potential to significantly offset the costs associated with competing in this event.

Matthews concludes the 21st June 2006 memo "We hope you will view this update as a significant enhancement of the way in which the AFL manages international development and we look forward to continuing to support your passion for the game".

If these processes are implemented fully then very solid growth for the game seems assured in a number of countries. The next 12 months should be very interesting for Aussie Rules around the world.