Adam Simpson warns against AFL coach cull


“I don’t buy into the [idea] that we’re restricting players from playing with more flair – we encourage it, we want it – a bit of freedom within a discipline, I suppose.

“The notion that you pull back the coaches and you’re going to score more or they won’t be able to defend as well … it’s not that restrictive, it really isn’t.

“We spend a lot of our time trying to get our players to play with freedom and flair.”

The AFL and its clubs have stood down around 80 per cent of their workers with the season in hibernation until at least May 31.

It remains to be seen how staffing levels will rebound in areas such as recruiting and player development and welfare when the season resumes.

Player development and education roles have been the key driver of the growth of football departments over the past decade.

Simpson argues that expanded welfare capability has allowed clubs to take a punt on players that they previously might not have.

He used the example of a potential draftee who had come from a rough upbringing, whose parent had broken up and who struggled with learning difficulties.

“We’ll take that risk because we’ve got support for that player mentally and physically,” he said.

“The footy stuff is easy ‘Just get on the track, mate, and go’.

“But all the stuff around him, that’s what we’ve catered for over the last five to 10 years.

“That’s why [football] departments have grown because of our ability to take on diverse cultures and bigger risks because we can handle them a bit better.

“That’s the balance of reducing everything – can we still draft that kid?”

AAP

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