With the AFL draft only days away, footy fans around the country will be waiting to see if their clubs can fill the gaps in their teams and pick up some guns for the future.
At this point, you might know what you want — say a big full forward, or a running outside midfielder, or a ruck for the future — but don't yet know which players best fit the bill.
Wonder no more! Using the tool below, pick what range your team's pick will be and the type of player you think they should select, and we'll give you the best option available.
There are two things to note. Firstly, you can do this as many times as you like (just refresh your page and make new selections).
Secondly, players who are sure things (like Jason Horne-Francis to North or Nick Daicos via the father-son rule to Collingwood) aren't included. This is for you to find the genuine options available for your team to select.
So get started, and find out which players you should put on the top of your list for draft night.
In a world of sport where professionals can be sent from city to city or coast to coast, the AFL's 70-year-old father-son rule pays homage to tribalism and all that sentimentality you did not know you still had as a barracker.
But maybe allowing genetically gifted families to keep working for one employer isn't lovely and fair for everyone.
Have some clubs benefited more than others from the way their players were propagated?
"Oh yes, there's no doubt," AFL talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan said.
Sheehan's mind winds back 37 years to the day he first heard praise for the name Ablett.
It was a Monday in July 1983. After a decade at Geelong as player, coach and development manager, Sheehan was working his last season with recruiter Bill McMaster.
"Where'd you go, what'd you see?" Sheehan asked McMaster.
The scout had spent the weekend in the rain-shivering mountain town of Myrtleford in north-east Victoria.
"I've seen the best player I've ever seen outside the VFL," McMaster said.
"This kid, he was kicking them goal-post high with a wet ball. He's an unbelievable player."
Gary Ablett Snr's talent was clear to see before he made a name for himself with the Cats.(Getty: Tony Feder)
The kid was Gary Ablett Snr, who had spent time he did not enjoy at Hawthorn, before giving Saturday arvo spectaculars to supporters of the powerful Ovens and Murray league.
By the end of the year, Sheehan had departed Geelong.
"They said goodbye to me and introduced a handful of recruits, including Gary Ablett Snr, and so I took an interest in him," Sheehan said.
"I caught up [with Ablett Snr] again maybe eight games into his career at Geelong. He actually played for Victoria. I'm team manager of the Victorian side [at the time].
"He played that state game, where he kicked eight [goals] against WA. That started — I suppose in a way — my close interest in the father-son rule because you're following an Ablett."
Gary Ablett Snr never won a flag, but his sons Gary and Nathan did. In 2007, they played in Geelong's grand-final winning team alongside another father-son recruit Matthew Scarlett, whose dad John played 183 games.
Tom Hawkins — the son of Geelong 182-gamer Jack — also made his debut for the Cats that season.
Geelong premiership greats Matthew Scarlett (left) and Gary Ablett Jnr followed their fathers to the Cats.(AAP: Julian Smith)
The father-son rule helped Geelong win another premiership cup two years later, with a particular passage of play in the grand final illustrating its value to the Cats.
Scores were level between Geelong and St Kilda at the 23rd-minute mark of the last quarter in the 2009 season decider.
Steve Johnson kicked the ball to Gary Ablett Jnr in the middle of the ground, a bold decision that flirted with the potential of a turn over of possession.
"Little Gary" could not mark the ball, which fell into the centre circle and was claimed by Scarlett, who bounced and then toe-poked the Sherrin back to Ablett Jnr, who took off and launched a bomb to the goal square.
Seconds later, Paul Chapman kicked a match-winning goal.
"Some have had some great luck with it," Sheehan said of the father-son rule.
"Geelong had a great run. St Kilda famously had a great group of players (from the 1990s) that had girls."
The Saints have not missed out: Hall of Fame champion Nathan Burke's daughter Alice was recruited by St Kilda to play in the 2021 AFLW season.
The next generation
On Wednesday and Thursday, teenagers with names familiar to older footy heads will arrive in the AFL via the national draft.
Nick Daicos (son of Peter), Sam Darcy (son of Luke), and Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter) will realise their potential to "go father-son".
Daicos and Darcy will likely break a record and become the highest father-son draft picks selected in AFL history.
Taj Woewodin (left) — son of former Demon and Magpie Shane — is a highly rated prospect.(Getty/AFL Photos: Mark Brake)
Another who is set to be drafted is West Australian prospect Taj Woewodin, whose father Shane won the 2000 Brownlow Medal when playing for Melbourne.
"He's (Taj Woewodin) had a terrific year at East Fremantle and then playing for WA [under 18s] in three interstate games [against South Australia]," said Sheehan, who has decades of experience as AFL talent ambassador.
"So all of a sudden he's rocketed in.
"He was in tears when Melbourne told him [that it wanted to recruit him]. He's barracked for them all his life."
The 2021 AFL draft is just around the corner, with another crop of budding stars ready to take their first steps into the league. Get the lowdown on when it is and what you need to know.
The youngster probably does not know the father-son rule was conceived to benefit his beloved Melbourne Football Club.
It was first implemented in the early 1950s to ensure that future Australian Football legend Ron Barassi Jr went to the same club as his father, who was killed in World War II.
After Barassi Sr's death, young Ron moved with his family into the exclusive recruiting zone of VFL rivals Collingwood and Carlton.
To get Barassi to Melbourne, the VFL said a club could seek a clearance for the son of a player with a record of 50 or more games.
The first boy to be cleared was Harvey Dunn Jr — son of 71-game goal sneak Harvey Dunn Sr — on May 11, 1951.
Dunn Jr only managed nine games for the Blues, but the next player cleared under the rule was Barassi.
As a pioneering ruck-rover and coach, Barassi won 10 premierships.
Other famous father-son names to change the shape of the league were Fletcher, Silvagni, Watson, Cousins, and Richardson.
Recent successful families
Twenty-four of the 44 grand finalists since 2000 — including 12 of 22 premiers — did so with one of their father-son products in their team.
The most recent addition to this club was Jack Viney (son of Todd), who lifted the premiership cup with Melbourne in 2021.
Carlton AFL premiership player Andrew McKay's daughter Abbie McKay (right) is forging a career in the AFLW.(Getty: Steve Bell)
In 2018, Abbie McKay became the first AFLW player to be drafted under the father-daughter rule. Since then, five other women have been selected by their fathers' old AFL club.
The rule has evolved over time, eventually catching up to the game's professionalism.
In the last decade, clubs have increasingly focused on bloodlines, with initiatives such as Essendon's James Hird Academy keeping tabs on future Bombers as young as eight and nine years old.
Club members follow every step of the children of greats through prolific media coverage and surprisingly well-attended junior games.
When Nick Daicos represented under-18 side Oakleigh Chargers against Sandringham Dragons at Moorabbin earlier this year, thousands of people turned up and his every sidestep was studied.
The modern father-son rule
When the father-son rule was first implemented, the application was limited to those 50 games. Since then, qualifications have varied.
In 1978, the father's games requirement was lowered to 20, but rose back to 50 in 1993. Before the 2003 season, the AFL doubled the threshold to 100.
Special rules have also existed at times, such as the one that allowed the recruitment of Simon Fletcher to Geelong in 1995.
Fletcher's dad Gary did not play a single game for the Cats, but was instead involved with the club's administration for more than five years.
Another rule existed for the playing of a higher number of games at state league level for non-Victorian clubs, with West Coast benefiting from this condition of the agreement.
From their VFL/AFL debut in 1987 through to 2007, the Eagles could recruit players from four WAFL clubs, whose fathers managed at least 150 appearances.
Ben Cousins was one such player who qualified through his father Bryan.
The cost of recruiting father-sons to clubs has also differed over time.
Before 1997, father-son selections were made prior to the national draft and they allowed the club to pre-list any eligible players without going through the draft process.
Players such as Dustin Fletcher, Matthew Richardson, Ben Cousins, Luke Darcy, Ashley McIntosh and Lance Whitnall were recruited to their clubs in this manner for free.
Essendon great Dustin Fletcher (centre) entered the AFL via the father-son rule.(AAP Image: Julian Smith)
From 1997 to 2006, clubs were only required to use their second-round draft pick (later their third-round choice) for any father-son selections. Any subsequent choices in the same draft year occurred with later picks.
This provided some cost to clubs for this access, but especially after the move to third-round picks the cost often proved to be inadequate, such as when Ablett Jr slid to pick 40 as a result.
We can work out the best father-son bargains using the system known as Player Approximate Value (PAV) to determine the value of draft picks and players based on their historical output.
Analysing the father-son choices between 1997 and 2006, exactly half — 17 of 34 — lived up to the expected value of their draft position during their overall time in the league.
But the weight of success far exceeded the failures.
As a group, the father-son picks of this era produced about 1,289 extra PAVs, roughly double the expected value of the draft picks.
This is the value of nearly nine top picks in the draft across a single decade. Names such as Ablett Jr, Kennedy, Shaw, Hawkins, Brown, Watson, and Cloke all outperformed the average of pick 40 that was paid for them.
It was the father-sons of this era that helped drive the Cats dynasty to success between 2007 and 2011.
While failure of father-son picks under this method was as likely as success, clubs who got it right were richly rewarded.
'A sliding scale'
Prompted by complaints, the AFL began to impose a greater charge on picking up a father-son prospect. But this change might have improved the value for picking up these players.
Since 2007, a bidding system has existed for father-son selections, with the club in question getting the option to match any bid with their next available pick — or multiple picks since 2015 — under the Draft Value Index system.
The AFL calls this adaptation "fair value".
"I remember doing the exercise on it that potentially you could have — at any one time — up to about 40 guys that might have played a hundred games that could have a boy in a draft-eligible sort of period, [they] might be turning 17 or 18," Sheehan said.
"But a hundred games is fair and you have to pay fair value now.
"The other 17 clubs will decide on where your father-son player sits in the draft and you match that bid using Draft Value Index points, which are allocated for every draft pick from one to 72 (from 3,000 points down to 10 points).
"It's a sliding scale and you have to assemble enough points to be able to upgrade and take that player at that particular pick where there is a bid.
"So Collingwood knowing that Daicos might be bid on … at [picks] one, two or three — he looks to be an outstanding young player — they'll be aware that if someone bids at (pick) one it's [worth] 3,000 points."
Nick Daicos is set to follow his father Peter to Collingwood.(Getty/AFL Photos: Michael Willson)
While there have been fewer complete careers to analyse, under this new system the success rates for father-son selections appears to be improving.
Only one father-son selected inside the top 30 since the bidding system was introduced has so far failed to have a long AFL career: Ayce Cordy.
More speculative father-son selections of the past would still cost a round-three selection, whereas these days players such as Jackson Edwards can slide to the rookie draft, lowering the risk to clubs.
In short, the move to fair value has placed less risk on clubs overvaluing the sons of the club. The collective knowledge of other clubs has been helpful.
Also, there are other drafting schemes now, including Next Generation Academies, which allow clubs to recruit and maintain talented children with parents born in other countries, as well as Indigenous players growing up in regions allocated by the league.
Bucking the system
A few very good footballers have rejected the appeal of playing for their family club.
For example, Nick Blakey (son of John) and Josh Dunkley (son of Andrew) did not want to go father-son and successfully forged their own ways into the league.
Others had the chance to choose between two clubs, such as Joe Daniher, who picked Essendon over Sydney in his draft year.
Later in his career, Daniher tried to organise a trade to the Swans, before landing at his current club Brisbane.
But perhaps the most prominent example is the recently retired former number-one draft pick Marc Murphy, who eschewed the Brisbane Lions to enter the open draft.
Despite some intensive wooing by Brisbane greats, Murphy was swayed to stay in his home state and follow in the footsteps of his father John in spirit, at least.
Marc Murphy played for the Blues his entire AFL career, instead of following his father John's path.(AAP: Michael Dodge)
John Murphy was a champion of Fitzroy, winning five best-and-fairest awards in his 214 games. To get to Fitzroy in the first place, he had to fend off the advances of his dad Leo's former club Hawthorn.
"Most would accept the offer and go father-son," Sheehan said.
"They probably would've barracked for the club. I'm not sure of Marc's circumstances, but maybe with Fitzroy becoming the Brisbane Lions he didn't feel as attached."
Sheehan said the father-son rule is not a handout, nor does it heap undue pressure on prospects.
"Most (players) recognise that it gets them looked at, which is a great thing," Sheehan said.
"People will have a closer look at them if they're [a] father-son [prospect]. But it won't get you over the line if you're not talented enough.
"And that pressure can go away once you're in the club. It's the pressure outside the club, it's the pressure of the media and some fans, but internally you're just trying to make your way up from the 40th player on the list to in the 23 to play a game.
"You block out all the outside noise on it and you're just trying to earn your respect in the playing group … [this] is the way most of the boys tend to treat it, having mixed with them and known them over the years.
"It's like any draft position. You're number one or you're number 10, but it is forgotten once you go into the club.
"You become just another one trying to get a game."
Family links in other sports
The selection of father-son options despite a draft means it is unique to the AFL.
But other sports have dynastic traditions. Son of a Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Jr proved himself to be the most dangerous hitter in MLB, and is a finalist for the American League MVP award.
Barry Bonds — son of long-time MLB veteran Bobby — is the league's all-time home-run record holder.
And fellow Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr was the first to play an MLB game with his father.
In ice hockey, arguably the second greatest player of all time, Gordie Howe, played several years with two of his sons in the same team.
For sports without a draft or zone recruitment rules, making your way to the club of your father is significantly easier.
In rugby league, Mat Rogers moved to Cronulla from the Gold Coast to follow in the footsteps of his famous father Steve.
This season's NRL premiership was won by Penrith, with coach Ivan Cleary guiding his son Nathan, the Panthers' star halfback.
Nathan (left) and Ivan Cleary have achieved success in the NRL as a father-son duo.(AAP: Dave Hunt)
In association football, dynasties such as the Lampards, Redknapps, Maldinis and Kluiverts have seen the same name represented at the same clubs over extended periods of time.
But the AFL is the only sport where a side gets a competitive advantage due to the families of their players.
Proposals have been put forward to increase the cost to access these sons of former greats, but to little success. It seems — at least for the time being — that the father-son system is here to stay.
Sheehan said he does not think having such a strong family presence does anything to diminish the talent pool of the national draft.
"It's steeped in history," he said.
"I think the fact that our father-son rule precedes our draft process by a long period of time — by 30 or more years — it's just been part of the way we do things at AFL level.
"And no other sport that I'm aware of has any father-son benefits as well as a drafting system. The American sports all have drafts but don't have these sorts of provisions in theirs.
"We really want the club members to be able to reminisce and to be able to follow their club with great loyalty for a long period of time and that comes from seeing Peter Burgoyne back in his day, and now Jase — his son — likely to join them (Port Adelaide).
"They're wonderful stories that the fans love and it helps them stick to their particular club over the journey, as well to see the young boy come through.
Kevin Sheehan has decades of experience in AFL recruitment.(Getty/AFL Photos: Dylan Burns)
"The images even of Shane Woewodin with his boy in his arms … the picture in the paper in the last couple of days. It connects the fans to the great players of the past and then their boys are able to come to the club. It creates great excitement.
"Every year there's half a dozen or more that are contenders, so I don't think it's a large enough group that it takes a lot away.
"Something like five per cent of those taken (drafted) would be father-son (picks) and there's plenty of others that have benefited.
"At the end of the day, there's only a small number that are absolutely talented enough to be able to get onto an AFL list.
"It doesn't command that they get picked."
It's a thrilling time of year for players, clubs and fans alike, all pinning their hopes on the outcome of the AFL draft.
For a crop of teenage footy players, it's the chance to fulfill a dream and launch a career. For clubs and fans, it's the never-ending hope that this young player — be he pick 1 or pick 60 — could be the next superstar of the AFL.
The countdown is well and truly on for the 2021 edition. Here's everything you need to know about this year's draft.
When is the AFL draft?
Split across several days, the draft begins at 7:10pm AEDT on Wednesday, November 24 when the first-round selections will be made.
The remainder of the national draft will be held the next day — Thursday, November 25 at 7:00pm AEDT — followed by the rookie and pre-season drafts on Friday, November 26 at 3:00pm AEDT.
Nick Daicos will go to Collingwood under the father-son rule.(Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)
The AFL has experimented with these multi-day drafts for a few years, returning to the format in 2021 after COVID restrictions made it impossible last year.
How does it work?
A draft order is set ahead of time, based initially on clubs' finishing positions from the previous years — with the bottom-ranked team receiving the first pick — but then changed by the many swaps and trades that are processed throughout the off-season.
That means some clubs will have many more picks than others, and some high-finishing clubs still have early picks in this year's draft.
The 2019 draft class was a strong one.(AAP: Michael Dodge)
Clubs make their selections one by one. Under recent changes, clubs can now trade places in the draft during the draft, creating a little bit of extra excitement if a team has its eye on one player in particular.
Any players not selected in the national draft on Wednesday and Thursday are then available to be taken in the rookie draft on Friday, the only difference being the status and value of the contracts they receive.
The pre-season draft is mostly an opportunity for older players, some of whom have been discarded by their previous clubs, to find new homes.
Who has the top pick this year?
North Melbourne will be the first team to make a selection at this year's draft, courtesy of their wooden spoon in 2021.
The Kangaroos had a disappointing season, but can bounce back with the number 1 pick.(AAP: Rob Prezioso)
The full top 10 is:
This order will get distorted by teams matching bids on father-son prospects, and moving up the order as a result (but more on that later).
Who are the players to watch?
The top handful of picks look basically set in stone, with South Australian midfielder Jason Horne-Francis almost certain to be taken by North Melbourne with the first pick in the draft.
Jason Horne-Francis has impressed playing for South Adelaide in the SANFL.(Supplied: SANFL)
Nick Daicos, a midfielder with a surname you might recognise, is the other top-pick contender, and he will head to Collingwood thanks to the father-son rule (we'll get there, I promise).
Also a father-son candidate, Sam Darcy, son of Luke, is an athletic tall forward destined for the Western Bulldogs.
Much of the rest of the top 10 is up for debate. Midfielders Finn Callaghan, Ben Hobbs, Josh Ward and Neil Erasmus are expected to go early, as are talls Josh Gibcus, Mac Andrew and Jye Amiss.
On the whole, outside of the top few picks this is an even draft, with plenty of bargains to be had.
So what is the go with the father-son rule and Next Generation Academies?
Basically, if your dad played 100 games with a club, that club gets first right of refusal on you in the draft.
The way this works is every pick in the draft has a certain points value attributed to it. Rival clubs can bid on a father-son candidate with any selection in the draft, at which point the aligned club can choose to match the value of that selection with a collection of its own picks.
For example, if GWS makes a bid for Daicos with the second pick in the draft — which is worth 2,517 points — Collingwood would need to use as many of their picks as it takes to reach that value. If they can't, or choose not to, the player goes to the club that bid.
Mac Andrew is part of Melbourne's NGA — but the Demons probably won't be able to select him.(Getty Images: Daniel Pockett)
(That's not going to happen for Daicos or Darcy. Both the Magpies and Bulldogs have based their entire off-season strategies on making sure they have enough points to snap up their guys).
The Next Generation Academy system is similar. Clubs have their own academies in which they can support and develop players from under-represented segments of the community.
The bidding system works the same as the father-son rule. However, the rules have been tweaked somewhat this year — the NGA bidding system only kicks in after pick 20.
So a player like Andrew, who is actually tied to Melbourne's NGA, will probably not end up with the Demons as he is likely to be snapped up by a team well before the 20th selection.
A third person has been charged over the stabbing murder of teenager Maaka Hakiwai in Melbourne on AFL grand final day last year.
- A man has faced a Melbourne court after being extradited from NSW over the murder of Maaka Hakiwai
- The 17-year-old was stabbed and died in hospital on AFL grand final day in September last year
- Three males have now been charged over the stabbing murder
Chol Kur, 20, was extradited from New South Wales and today appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Mr Kur is accused of murdering the 17-year-old and is also facing charges of armed robbery and intentionally causing serious injury against the boy’s brother.
Maaka Hakiwai died in hospital after he and his brother, Nathaniel Hakiwai, 18, were stabbed during a fight with a group of men at Kings Park, in Melbourne’s north-west, in September last year.
Joshua Horton, 18, and another 17-year-old boy have also each been charged with murder, armed robbery and intentionally causing serious injury over the incident.
Mr Horton appeared in court earlier this week facing an additional murder charge under Section 3A of the Crimes Act, which is unintentional killing in the course or furtherance of a crime of violence.
Mr Kur faces the same charge.
Police allege Mr Horton and Mr Kur were armed with a knife when they stole a Los Angeles Kings cap and a Philadelphia 76ers cap from Nathaniel Hakiwai, worth a total of $100.
Mr Horton and Mr Kur will return to court later this month.
Fremantle Dockers forward Jesse Hogan is taking indefinite leave from the AFL club to deal with mental health issues.
The Dockers have released a statement saying it was in Hogan’s best interests to take some time off.
“Jesse needs time away from the club so he can manage mental health challenges that he is dealing with and focus on his general wellbeing,” Fremantle’s general manager of football Peter Bell said.
“We believe it is the most appropriate course of action and, more importantly, it is what is best for Jesse’s long-term health and wellbeing.
“We will continue to provide all the necessary and ongoing care and support Jessie requires, as we would do for any of our players.”
Hogan joined the Dockers from Melbourne before last season in a high-profile trade.
The Demons sent Hogan and pick number 65 in the 2018 draft to Fremantle for picks 6 and 23.
Hogan was then suspended before round one last year for making “poor alcohol choices” as Fremantle revealed he was dealing with an anxiety disorder.
The 24-year-old played just 12 games in 2019 as he dealt with injury and personal problems.
He is still recovering from a serious foot injury.
Hogan has played a total of 83 games and kicked 165 goals for both Fremantle and Melbourne after debuting in 2013.
The AFL has become the latest sporting organisation to announce plans to support bushfire relief, including $2.5 million in donations and a one-off State of Origin match at Docklands next month.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan made the announcement of the Origin clash between a Victorian and an Allies side, adding the league, clubs and players were joining together to provide a $1 million donation to the Australian Red Cross relief fund.
The State of Origin match will be played as a double-header with the Collingwood-Melbourne AFLW match — previously scheduled for February 29 — which will be moved from Victoria Park to Docklands.
The Victorian side will be guided by Richmond premiership coach Damien Hardwick, while the All-Stars will be coached by the Sydney Swans’ John Longmire.
All AFL clubs will be asked to make at least three players available for the match.
The last time State of Origin football was played involving AFL players was in 1999, when Victoria played South Australia at the MCG.
Nine years later, a one-off game — the AFL Hall of Fame tribute match — was played at the MCG, when a Victorian line-up beat the Dream Team (a composite side from other states and territories) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian rules football.
The AFL would also set up a $1.5 million community relief fund to help rebuild football clubs damaged in fires, as well as helping football communities dealing with the aftermath of fires.
AFL’s bushfires response
- $1 million donation to Australian Red Cross Relief Fund
- $1.5 million AFL fund to rebuild, repair football clubs in fire-affected areas
- One-off State of Origin match, Victoria v Allies on February 28 at Docklands
- Match to be played as double-header with Collingwood v Melbourne AFLW as bushfire fundraisers
- AFLW clubs to support bushfire donation collection points at matches in the 2020 season
- $2.5m donation split between the AFL ($1.35m), clubs ($900,000) and players ($250,000)
“Our clubs, players and officials have been unanimous in providing a response that could not only raise money but also recognise the local communities impacted,” McLachlan said.
“And most importantly pay tribute to those thousands of volunteers and emergency services personnel who have worked tirelessly to protect us as a community.
“We know that those [fire-affected] communities are suffering now but they are also going to need our support as they start to rebuild.
“Sport builds bonds within communities and we want people to know they have the support of the entire football industry and that we will be there to help them rebuild facilities and programs and ensure people continue to come together.”
Australian sport kicks in for bushfire relief
The AFL announcement joins a string of pledges from players, codes and sports to provide contributions to bushfire relief.
The NRL has announced round one of the 2020 season will be a “bushfire relief round” to raise funds for fire-hit communities.
Australia’s Boxing Day Test team shirts were auctioned off to raise funds, bowlers donated $1,000 per wicket during the Sydney Test against New Zealand, and two one-day internationals against the Black Caps in March will be used for fundraising.
In tennis, Nick Kyrgios pledged $200 for every ace he served in the Australian summer of tennis which was the catalyst for a Tennis Australia program, Aces 4 Bushfire Relief, involving local and international players.
Tennis Australia will also host a concert featuring a number of performers including Jessica Mauboy, and a Rally for Relief exhibition event headlined by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both ahead of the Australian Open.
Various Big Bash League cricketers have pledged money for each six hit in the competition, while Australian great Shane Warne is auctioning his baggy green cap —as of Thursday morning, the highest bid is $520,500.
A group of Australian NBA basketballers with the NBA Players Association have banded together to donate US $750,000 ($1.09 million), while NBL superstar and projected NBA number one draft pick Lamelo Ball has pledged one month’s worth of his salary with the Illawarra Hawks.
Major bushfire donors Donor/sAmountAndrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation$70mPaul Ramsay Foundation$30mCrown/The Packers$5mNAB$5mColes$4mLeonardo DiCaprio via Earth Alliance $3.4mAFL$2.5mBHP$2mWestpac$1.5mWoolworths$1.5mAustralian NBA stars$1m+Commonwealth Bank$1mANZ$1mRio Tinto$1mOrica$1mPratt Foundation$1mJohn and Pauline Gandel$1mElton John$1mChris Hemsworth$1mKylie Jenner$1mHains family via Portland House Foundation$1mThe Perich Group $1mAuction for Shane Warne’s baggy green cap (purchased by the Commonwealth Bank)$1mMetallica$750kLewis Hamilton$730k approxKylie and Dannii Minogue$500kJustin Hemmes$500kNicole Kidman and Keith Urban$500kPink$500kBette Midler$500k
*Table does not include fundraisers, such as Celeste Barber’s efforts to raise tens of millions, or pledges conditional on future events, such as Nick Krygios’ commitment to donate $200 for every ace he hits.
When Jake Edwards’s name was called out by the Carlton Football Club on AFL draft night in 2005, it appeared to herald a long and successful career in football.
Less than nine years later, he tried to take his life.
“I’m very fortunate to still be here, to be able to spend time with my family again and shake my dad’s hand and hug Mum,” Edwards said.
The 31-year-old’s life collapsed after being delisted by the Blues, as he battled mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.
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It all stemmed from a diagnosis of depression and anxiety from his footballing days, and a loss of identity as a footballer post-retirement.
“There is a four-year period post my AFL career where I just ran away, I just pushed people away. Friends, family, I stopped going to birthdays, Christmases,” Edwards recalled.
“I felt like I let my family down. That identity of football I had lost, and when I took that jumper off I didn’t know who I was anymore.
“If I wasn’t drinking every weekend, it was every few days, which ultimately led me [to] drug abuse as well.
“I needed to find that feeling again of being valued, and that’s what I guess the alcohol and drug abuse fulfilled in my life.”
Born into a footballing dynasty
Football had always been a major part of Edwards’s life. His great-grandfather, grandfather, father and cousin all played in the VFL or AFL.
His grandfather, Arthur Edwards, played 120 games for Footscray, including in the club’s successful 1954 grand final against Melbourne.
“I always say if I was to give blood tomorrow, there would be little footies floating around [in it],” Edwards said.
“It was always something I wanted to do, for as long as I can remember.”
But despite glimpses of his talent, life as a professional footballer didn’t go according to plan for Edwards.
Jake Edwards in action on the football field
Towards the end of his second year with Carlton, he started experiencing mental health issues, which he tried to ignore.
“I did what every typical young male does and just closed off,” Edwards recalled.
“I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want people to know about it.
“Symptoms for me were just isolation, crying most mornings, which is frustrating because I was supposed to be fit, healthy.”
Edwards hid his struggles from his teammates and Carlton, until one poor VFL game sent him off the rails.
He went back to the family farm, calling the club on the way to tell them he was done with football.
‘A simple pill isn’t going to be the cure’
Edwards was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and started taking medication, allowing him to return to the club and resume his career.
A marathon without a finish line
Professional athletes often view mental health issues as an opponent that can be beaten, but they need to know not everything in life is a battle to be won or lost, writes Richard Hinds.
But he didn’t fully grasp what it meant to have a mental illness.
“I was naive and ignorant to the fact it was something that was probably going to be with me for a lifetime, and a simple pill isn’t going to be the cure,” Edwards said.
The illness reared it head a couple of years later, when Edwards had left Carlton and was training with the Western Bulldogs, hoping to be picked up in the AFL draft.
Despite promises from the club, he was overlooked, ending his career and sending him spiralling — eventually leading to an attempt to take his own life.
“I had a trigger in a relationship which led me down a four-day drug-and-alcohol-fuelled bender, and that led to an attempt on my own life one morning,” he said.
Help from Outside the Locker Room
Edwards spent time in a program working with psychiatrists and getting education around mental health, and it was there that he developed the concept of Outside the Locker Room (OTLR).
The not-for-profit foundation aims to help sporting clubs — from grassroots to professional — along with schools and employers to understand and manage the challenges faced by their employees or members.
It has been widely adopted, with the Federal Government providing funding in Western Australia for the program to be rolled out in 100 sporting clubs and 50 schools per year for the next four years.
It also comes at a time when the issue of mental health in the AFL looms larger than ever, with star Collingwood midfielder Dayne Beams stepping away from the game indefinitely last month while describing himself as a “broken man”.
Subiaco Football Club is one of the organisations which has adopted the Outside the Locker Room program, having done so after one of its trainers worked on a research project looking at the mental health of injured players.
“Our board looked at those findings in 2017 and thought, ‘We need to do something to support our players’,” Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes said.
When football is about more than the game
OTLR was introduced at Subiaco to provide support and education for players struggling with mental health and has helped the club through some difficult times.
“We lost a player due to suicide a couple of years ago, and it really impacted our playing group, and Outside the Locker Room were able to quickly come in and provide some counselling and support,” Capes said.
The organisation provides services to the club in other ways, providing a phone app which allows players to anonymously log data related to how they are feeling.
It gives Subiaco’s coaches valuable information.
“It provides a snapshot of the playing group and the sorts of things we need to pay attention to,” Capes said.
“We’ve gone away from coaches coaching footy. They have to coach the player, look out for them and how they are going, they need to know what’s going on in their family and friends.
“It’s become a little bit more complicated.”