On Tuesday, the AFL announced the six men who have been approved for the third year of their level four coaching accreditation course.
AFL assistant coaches Scott Burns (Collingwood), Steven King (Western Bulldogs), Brett Kirk (Sydney), Brendon Lade (Port Adelaide), Dean Solomon (Gold Coast) and Leigh Tudor (North Melbourne) were the successful applicants.
The course, based on a model provided by the International Council for Coach Education, is tailored to each person’s experience level, and has produced current senior head coaches Brendon Bolton (Carlton) and Simon Goodwin (Melbourne).
Led by the AFL’s Michael Poulton, with input from Essendon coach John Worsfold and ex-head coaches Neale Daniher and Brendan McCartney, it is expected to be considered as being mandatory in the future, based on the success of the current students.
The coaching course is a small, but exemplary facet of why the AFL is the most successful sporting league in Australia.
Consistently committed to improving the game, the AFL has long been known as not only industry leading, but also nation leading self-promoters and conflict resolvers.
The level four coaching accreditation course, which kicked off in 2015, shows they are also ahead of the pack when it comes to taking initiative off the field to improve the product on it.
This is in stark contrast to the way the NRL and ARU have traditionally operated – usually both very reactionary bodies, and painfully slowly reactionary at that.
Looking across the canvas, both the NRL and ARU have very little that resembles what the AFL has put together to help its best young coaching talent succeed at the highest level.
The NRL’s highest level of coaching course it offers is its High Performance Coach course, which is held annually for 15-20 participants, who are screened upon application.
Mentioned nowhere on the page is how the course is viewed among NRL circles, successful students of the course, or any sort of testimonials as to why you should spend the $550 to complete the course.
The ARU does a little better, at least offering a concise progression of course levels similar to the AFL, and mentions that both domestic and overseas competitions target graduates for jobs, but offers little in the way of testimonials to its success.
As touched on, not only has the AFL taken it on themselves to explore an avenue of industry improvement, the likes of which is rarely seen anywhere else in Australian sport, but they are looking to potentially ratify their level four coaching course as mandatory.
This would mean that, in the future, potentially every head coaching hire has AFL accredited paperwork and study under their belt, from a course developed by international bodies and some of the best coaching minds in the sport.
Even if we do not see this take place for another 10 to 15 years, it is this commitment to betterment that has the AFL well in front of the other major sports, and will keep them there.
It may only be a small example of what makes that so, but as Hank Scorpio of The Simpsons said, “it’s the little things that make up life”.