The Brisbane Lions’ five first year players – Sam Mayes, Marco Paparone, Michael Close, Nick Hayes, and Jordon Bourke – headed to Melbourne on Monday to take part in the annual AFL Players’ Association Induction Camp at Etihad Stadium.
The two-day program included a number of eye-opening sessions designed to better prepare the latest crop of draftees for their journey as an AFL player.
The seminar covered a range of topics including life skills, decision making, diversity in the AFL, respect and responsibility, media ethics, illicit drugs and gambling, among others.
The Lions players were joined in Melbourne by the Club’s Head of Welfare, Leadership and Culture, Manny Lynch, who said the AFLPA Induction Camp played a critical role in aiding the players’ development both on and off the field.
“It’s all about support, and getting the guys to understand that what they’re going through, a lot of people have done before them,” Lynch told lions.com.au.
“The AFL Players’ Association are an amazing group who really work hard with the Player Development Managers from each club, and we’re all on the same page in terms of wanting to support the young fellas coming in.”
The program also included direct insights from former players who were more than willing to share their own personal experiences.
“It gives our young guys an opportunity to learn from lessons that have made (past players) successful or otherwise, and then put some building blocks in place to mitigate potential risks.”
“We need to build their capability to not only exit the AFL system a better person, but also build their capability to stay in the system.”
What the first-year players said:
“We’ve had a few seminars about well-being, life after footy, and other things to look out for off the field to make sure you’re being the best person you can be. It also promotes having something to fall back on after footy.”
“We’ve gone through a few things that I wouldn’t have really thought about too much, so obviously it’s opened my eyes up quite a bit.”
“It’s been good to go through all the sessions – they speak about things like social media, life outside of football, management, and life setbacks – so it’s a good induction.”
“It’s been really good so far. Learning all the stuff you have to do after footy is good to know, because your AFL career isn’t going to last forever, so it’s important to consider that. Plus they help you with other skills like budgeting and looking after your finances.”
“It’s definitely very interesting. There were a few past players in there talking about their on-field and off-field experiences, including dealing with injuries, so you get more than one perspective. You get given the worst case scenario with the best case scenario."
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