Letter from the President | September 2012

I believe this has been a year of many milestones for the USAFL. The Executive Board has been hard at work in planning for the future and it is very gratifying to have items fall into place. As a project within our 5 year strategic plan we will help the AFL conduct an annual combine in search of athletic talent. Australians in general are not growing to 6’5” and above, and the AFL is targeting US athletes that fit a certain physical profile. Last week in Los Angeles, 25 collegiate basketball and football players were introduced to Australian Rules football by  AFL International  Development Manager Tony Woods, Sydney Swans legend Tadhg Kennelly (former Gaelic star who transitioned), AFL combine specialist Jamie Hepner, and AFL Academy development manager Michael Ablett. The results were fantastic, highlighted by 6 players breaking Nic Naitanui’s combine vertical leap record. In October, 2-3 of these players will test at the AFL combine in Melbourne.

Many of you may ask – what does this do for the USAFL? The combine has many benefits to the USAFL, but before I detail those, I would like to clearly state that the combine is 100% funded by the AFL and is not a portion of our annual grant. The AFL has requested our help in organizing logistics and as a resource in understanding the market.

From a big-picture-point-of-view, the athletes who will participate in the AFL Combine in Melbourne are a physical representation of the US market.  Bringing foreign talent back to Australia helps justify our annual grant (ie it helps answers the question, “what does the annual grant mean to the AFL?”).

The US combine is another marketing opportunity for sponsors and our league. The USAFL needs mass-exposure to the US public if it wants to grow substantially in the next five years and this provides another valuable channel. An event that tests elite talent will help gain the league more exposure.

Elite players – the players who are interested in continuing with football will be connected to local clubs to pursue development. While this number is not substantial and will not affect all clubs, exposure as such cannot hurt and those lucky few clubs that can maintain a relationship with an elite athlete should take advantage.

Knowledge development – Revolution Coach Matt Bishop and Revolution Development Coach Dan Sarbacker were both present and participated in the management of the testing. The exposure to AFL testing methods will help the Revolution continue its push as the USAFL elite talent pathway.

Finally, from a league-standpoint, the combine represented another high-profile project that we completed successfully. Many thanks to Operations Manager Doren James in running the logistics of the three-day event including managing the travel schedule of 30 people. Without Doren this event would not have been successful. The USAFL continues to demonstrate we are a professional organization that is capable of running projects. This in return creates more trust between the AFL and USAFL.

I look forward to the results of the athletes in Melbourne – this will be another historic moment as we push towards an American playing at the MCG in an AFL match. As always, thank you to your commitment in growing Australian football in the US. I welcome feedback, questions, or thoughts. Shoot me an email at president@usafl.com or follow me on Twitter @usrevo4.


Andy Vanica, President
president@usafl.com | @usrevo4

Posted in 
Watch AFL