More than 100 first-year players attended last week’s two-day Induction Camp at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. The camp included educational sessions on well-being, career development, player rights and advocacy, financial literacy and an introduction to the AFL Players’ Association. Last year’s pick 6 and Gold Coast SUNS draftee Ben King reflects on his experience at the camp.
Before the AFL Players’ Association Induction Camp I didn’t really know anything about what the association did or what they offered players.
To be honest, I thought they focused on changes within the game and were linked to that, which of course they are, but there is so much more outside of the game and off-field that they do.
The camp ran over the course of two days and we were split into groups which were mixed up with my Gold Coast teammates and players from other clubs.
We went through different sponsor activation points and educational sessions about different areas within the association.
I enjoyed learning about opportunities with tertiary educational grants and the financial literacy sessions but the best part was catching up with my twin brother Max and seeing my mates.
It was awesome to see everyone in their team polos, which was a bit different to the last time we caught up.
Seeing the different sponsor activation’s was pretty cool.
I didn’t realise how many there were that gave us privileges and opportunities to become involved with them.
We were fortunate enough to have former St Kilda player Justin Koschitzke and former Magpie Sam McClarty come and speak to us about their different AFL journeys.
Listening to Justin speak to us about his career and what he went through was a really great experience.
He shared some good knowledge on his battle with mental health and the tough times he experienced during his career with injuries.
His talk really encouraged everyone to open up about their feeling and draw on the support around us as players.
It was great to hear from Sam as well.
He’s taken a different path to what everyone expects of themselves when they do get drafted so it was great to hear him talk about the AFLPA and how they continued to support him when he was de-listed.
It was encouraging to know that even if you do stumble at the start you’ve got the support behind you to help you get back on your feet.
As players we have a lot of support around us and to have a better understanding of how the AFLPA coordinate that for us was really important.
It was really encouraging to see how much they do for us off the field and to make sure that even after football, we’re supported.
Once you’re on a list, you’ve got their help for the rest of your days so seeing that was really helpful.
Being an interstate player as well has been a big change for me so getting to know the Queensland Regional Manager and knowing that we’ve got someone looking after us on the Gold Coast was enlightening.