What does the future hold for prospective AFL coaches?


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What does the future hold for prospective AFL coaches?

Playing the game at the highest level appears to be a prerequisite for applicants at AFL clubs, both in senior and assistant positions.

It is hard not to blame clubs for selecting former AFL stars because after all, it is a safer option and if it fails there is certain to be less public backlash.

But does spending time in the AFL system automatically qualify you as a better candidate than someone who has not played at the elite level?

It is interesting to note that the majority of current NFL coaches were not former top level players themselves.

With the increasing Americanisation of our game, is there a chance that the coaching selection process could follow suit?

Another big question surrounds whether or not a female has the capabilities to coach in the AFL.

Peta Searle, a level three accredited coach, has had a distinguished career.

She held senior assistant coaching gigs with TAC Cup side Western Jets and more prestigiously, Port Melbourne in the VFL.

Under her guidance the Borough’s defensive unit was arguably the best performing backline in the competition.

But despite all this, no AFL club was willing to take the punt on her for a position in a coaching department, instead prioritising the recruitment of recently retired players.

Current Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney is currently the only senior coach in the league that has not played at the top level.

But McCartney faced a long and arduous journey before he was accepted into the position.

He coached country league club Ocean Groves to four consecutive premierships taking a role with Richmond as a development coach.

McCartney made his name during his time as an assistant coach with the successful Geelong side and was a driving force behind a couple of premierships at the Cats.

He enjoyed a brief stint with Essendon before finally being appointed coach of the Bulldogs for the 2012 season.

At this stage it is too early in the caper to determine whether or not he has been successful.

It will be interesting to follow the future of coaching twenty, thirty years down the track to see if there are any significant changes.

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Agree, and it is a sorry state of affairs about Peta Searle.

  2. Look also at the job Brendan Rodgers has done with Liverpool in the EPL. Didn’t make it as a professional or international (admittedly due to injury) but made the most of his chances and has a team that threatened for the 2013-14 title.

    Club administrators seem so pre-occupied with keeping their membership happy by appointing former players instead of being brave and – as the business world does – actively seeking out new ideas and philosophies to gain an edge over their competitors.

    Peta Searle should absolutely be part of an AFL club’s coaching panel. It’s their loss I guess

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