Communities are heart and soul of the game: Gill McLachlan

AFL CEO Gill McLachlan with junior community footballers at the MCG

Editorial by AFL CEO, Gill McLachlan, which was published in the Herald Sun on Sunday, March 26, 2023:

With the AFL season underway, community football is on the verge of returning - and it’s a really exciting time for our local clubs.

The foundation of footy is in towns and communities across the state, where local clubs bring together people from all walks of life.

Grassroots football has been challenged in recent years, but through the incredible commitment and passion of so many people the local game has emerged in a position to thrive long into the future.

Community football clubs create a meeting place and foster a sense of belonging. Whether it’s Thursday training, Saturday for NAB AFL Auskick followed by senior footy, or Sundays when the juniors play, football means so much to so many.

Our game is powered by the contributions of great people in their communities, many of them volunteers to whom we owe so much. Whether you’re a player, coach, umpire, administrator, parent or supporter, thank you for the role you play in making footy great.

We know there are parts of the game doing in tough, which is why the AFL is directing more support than ever before to where it’s needed most.

The growth of our game has also created the need for new and upgraded facilities that are welcoming and inclusive, which is why we’re aiming to build or develop an oval a week for five years.

Long-term, the AFL also has a vision to have football present in every home in Australia and inspire kids across the country, regardless of background, to dream big.

Footy is back and I wish everyone involved, at all levels of the game, a wonderful 2023 season.