In the week of the AFL Draft, thank you and well done to all volunteers

Players picked in the first round of the 2023 AFL Draft together at Marvel Stadium on November 20, 2023. Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
An open letter from Head of AFL Victoria, Greg Madigan:

It has been a huge week for the game with 77 young men realising their dreams and finding homes on AFL lists for the first time through the AFL National Draft and Rookie Draft events.

Of this 77, nearly half are from Victoria (38), showing how important our state remains in producing so many of the stars of the elite men’s game.
All of these players have a story on how they made it and for most, their journey in football started at their local NAB AFL Auskick centre or junior club, where volunteers are the heartbeat of the game.

While natural talent, commitment and hard work are important ingredients for any draftee, none of these players would have made it to the elite game without the support of so many people performing various roles for the benefit of their local clubs and communities.

I would like to congratulate and thank all the volunteers, officials and supporters of community clubs who played a role in the journeys of all the boys drafted this week.
According to AFL data, for every player who makes it to the AFL, there have been more than 30 volunteer roles, over 400 people in those roles and more than 10,000 volunteer hours impact the player and help them through their football journey.

From highly touted number one pick Harley Reid, who played his junior football at Tongala in Central Victoria, to the stunning story of 21-year-old Oliver Wiltshire, selected by Geelong with pick 61 straight out of community football at Barwon Heads, every player drafted has been heavily influenced, guided and supported by volunteers.

In junior and senior local football across Victoria in 2023 there were 85 leagues, 1,040 clubs and more than 8,750 teams, as well as 780 Auskick centres introducing thousands of kids to our great game. This football ecosystem is powered by tens of thousands volunteers who dedicate huge amounts of time and effort to making our game great.

Of the 1000-plus clubs in Victoria, only a relatively small number are celebrating producing AFL draftees in 2023. But every volunteer in community football should feel proud of the role they play, from every corner of the state, no matter how big or small your club.

It is why the AFL has committed to supporting community football through various programs, underpinned by no less than 10 per cent of all assessable revenue going back into the grassroots game. There are a number of ways Victorian clubs and leagues receive support, including:

Congratulations to all the players drafted this week and all the best for your AFL journey ahead.

To all the community football volunteers who helped to get them there, thank you and well done.

Greg Madigan
Head of AFL Victoria