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AFL needs academies for game to grow

THE Sydney businessman who has personally invested more than $3M into the Swans and Giants academies has slammed Eddie McGuire and the Melbourne clubs over their shortsighted views on talent nurseries.
Successful banker and now Greater Western Sydney board member Paul Moore said McGuire’s move on the academies would only hurt the competition and make the AFL a bit player in Australian sport with the proposed rule changes to the system.
“He’s putting the future of the AFL at risk,” Moore told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s the AFL, not the VFL. They’re in a monopoly culture in Melbourne and it’s completely different in Sydney and they don’t get it.
“If we don’t get some talent out of the academies in NSW and Queensland it’s going to be Carlton against Collingwood in front of 5000 people at Princes Park in 50 years time.”
While Moore is only half joking about the 2065 scenario, he has watched the code struggle to produce AFL talent despite the red and whites great run of success.
Moore grew up playing local football for St Ives and North Shore and also represented the NSW Rams at the National Championships.
Six years ago he approached the Swans to help remedy the situation and stumped up in a big way to help establish the academy along with major sponsor QBE. He then helped the Giants out as well, where he is now a director.
“Eddie has concentrated on Isaac Heeney but 99 per cent of academy players won’t play in the AFL,” Moore said.
“These players will go back to the local clubs and leagues and help broaden participation and become coaches and teach kids. They will grow the game at the grassroots. Once you have established that base the talented players will select themselves.
“The academies are not just about getting top 10 picks, it’s about broadening participation.”
Highly regarded academy prospect Callum Mills is set to join Heeney at the Swans next year but Moore believes the move to change the bidding system surrounding academies is still too hasty.
“Melbourne clubs don’t want the integrity of the draft compromised and we agree with that,” Moore said.
“But the academies have produced just one player so far so how can that compromise it?
“There’s 99 draft picks in NSW and Queensland who all want to go home after two years. The Melbourne clubs have a huge advantage, they should be looking at redressing the balance between the clubs. At the Giants we won’t have a father-and-son pick for a long time.”
With more than half of Australia’s population residing in NSW and Queensland and producing less than 10 per cent of the AFL’s talent, Moore also believes the indigenous game is under serious threat from globalisation.
“The Melbourne clubs don’t get this,” Moore said.
“They think they’re No. 1 but on a global scale we’re irrelevant.
“We are a niche sport in NSW and Queensland and if we don’t become main stream and if we’re not producing our fair share of talent from NSW and Queensland it will never be a national game.
“The more the global games grow with the associated TV revenue the more Aussie rules will retreat back to it’s core states.”
Moore is now questioning his ongoing investment in the academies.

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