By David PriceA-League is about to hit its peak, and while some will argue the current crop of players are still just young kids, many of the league’s best players are now in their mid-20s and have been playing in the league for years.
So how did a squad that had already been in the A-league for six years in a row come so far?
Here’s a look at what made the AFL so successful this season.
“We have a great group of young players, they’re young and they’re hungry,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.
“I think it’s been a really positive thing that our players have been really excited about the AFFL and how it is evolving and developing.”
Our players have shown great maturity in their careers and it’s a great club and a fantastic league to be a part of.
“This year, there are a lot of young, talented players, and it has been a positive step for our club.”
So how do we measure improvement?
The AFL’s average age in the top 30 in the competition is 29, so the current top 20 are the most mature, while they’ve also had some big-name signings.
“There is no doubt we have a lot to improve on,” McLachl said.
“I don’t want to overstate it, but the league is at the very beginning stages of its evolution.”
But, with the right balance of talent and the right structure, we are going to continue to have great growth for the foreseeable future.
“So, what about the new players?
The top 20 players in the AFL this season have played more than 800 games for two teams, so their ages are comparable to those who have played at least 200 games for clubs in the past five years.
But the key difference is that the younger players have had more time to grow.
While the previous crop had more than a decade of experience in the senior ranks, the current batch has had less than a year in the game.
McLachlan acknowledged the AFL was still a long way from reaching its full potential, and some players are only getting the opportunity to make the grade.
But he said the club is doing everything it can to ensure that happens, including giving players who are still developing their skills a pathway into the senior side.”
It is a big thing to make sure that they can do well,” McLathlan said.”
“That’s something we’re trying to achieve as quickly as possible, and we want to do that as quickly and as consistently as we can.”