Community Footy
A common criticism of the AFL administration is that it is more focused on growing and protecting its brand, rather than the game itself.

This criticism is not entirely fair, as the AFL’s annual reports clearly show that millions are poured into developing the game each year.

However, the disconnect between AFL House and its grassroots remains obvious, as does the growing feeling of discontent.

By way of example, in 2018 the committee of the Fish Creek Football and Netball Club wrote an open letter to the AFL Commission to draw urgent attention to the plight of grassroots football.

Please click here to read a copy of the letter.

We all understand that the AFL has become a business and its focus is on commercialisation. Sport has become $port.

But should commercialisation come before community? The AFL competition is at the top of the football pyramid, with a strong base being built by many hard working people in grassroots football. To ignore that base, or to take it for granted, would be a disaster.

The health of the magnificent game we call Australian rules and its existence in communities, leagues and clubs all around Australia – the real custodians of the game – does not appear to be a priority for the AFL. Even worse, the loss of local clubs seems to be regarded as acceptable collateral damage.
John McCann, Glenorchy Football Club

In 2018, while grass roots footy was withering, the AFL’s 12-person executive team takes home more than $10.73 million in wages, including $3.56m in bonuses. Would love to know who got what bonuses during the period Tassie footy was being run into the ground.
Martin Flanagan

Grassroots participation might be rising, but that’s got very little to do with AFL House and everything to do with the work of volunteers and hard-working community clubs, who could do far more good with the cheque McLachlan and his band cut to run AFL Media than that entity could hope to achieve in a century.
Ryan Buckland

Ran the local Auskick for a few years. Kids pay $80 in Subs and the princely sum of $5.36 per child came back to the local town/club. Decided to pull the pin when our youngest son excitedly delivered me “Footy” mail. Alas, it was a NAB bank statement.
Nat Lucas

No doubt senior AFL officials will hotly dispute assertions of decline. Their public relations departments will produce reams of statistics reassuring the public that more money than ever before is passing through the “AFL economy”, “more children than ever before” participate, AFL clubs have more members, more watch on television and more attend games than ever before.

But, in their hearts, everyone associated with the AFL knows the decline in the community is real. The statistics are buttressed by ever-laxer definitions: a child attends a football clinic and is counted as a “participant”; clubs offer ever-cheaper “teaser” memberships to bolster numbers; and attendance and viewership of the elite level is flatlining and, in any case, is part of what is sapping the energy from community football.
Jonathan West

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The Stolen Footy Clubs – Part 2