Professional education and training for early career players in the Australian Football League: Footy first, second and third

Year: 2005

Author: Hickey, Christopher, Kelly, Peter

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In this presentation we discuss some of the findings of a research project funded by the Australian Football League (AFL) titled: Getting the Balance Right: Professionalism, Performance, Prudentialism and Playstations in the Life of AFL Footballers. The research explored the following issues: the emergence and evolution of a ‘professional identity’ for AFL footballers – an identity that has many facets including the emerging ideas that a professional leads a balanced life, and has a prudent orientation to the future, to life after football. This ‘professional identity’ isn’t natural, and must be developed through a range of ‘professional development’ activities (a common link to all other ‘professions’). In the AFL at this time professional development has a focus on engaging players in a variety of education and training activities – TAFE & University courses, and workshops and seminars that the industry has put in place to educate players about issues that the industry sees as important.

The presentation will focus on our research with players we classified as Early Career players. For many of these 17 to 21 year old young men the later years of secondary schooling were compromised in their pursuit of an AFL career, and their subsequent drafting is followed by intense efforts to physically prepare them for football. In this context our research indicates that many Early Career players put football first, second and third – education and training, and industry expectations that they participate in this sort of professional development come further down their list of priorities.