K rock Football

Falcons stay connected

Geelong Falcons coach Luke Daffy addresses his players during a match in 2019. (Geelong Falcons Image/Brian Barlett)

LONG-serving talent manager Michael Turner says the Geelong Falcons will continue to support players and their families for the duration of the postponement of the NAB League season.

And he has called on the AFL to consider lifting the age limit to 19 in 2021 to give this year’s top-age players another year in the competition.

The NAB League was put on hold last week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, throwing a curveball to those youngsters hoping to impress enough to find themselves on an AFL list at the end of 2020.

“We’ve put mechanisms in place to support our parents,” Turner said.

“Every email that comes out from the AFL goes to the players’ parents and our staff. We’ve had conferences with the parents and conferences with the players on Zoom.

“We can’t have any face-to-face (contact), so we’re sending training programs out to them to start this weekend because they’ve had a two-week layoff.

“We’ve just used that as a download, and now we’ve just got to see what the landscape holds.”

With no guarantee of any matches being played in 2020, Turner believes this is the perfect opportunity for the competition to become an under-19 one going forward.

Not only does it give players another year of eligibility, but it provides the majority of players the chance to play football without having to worry about VCE and also being unavailable due to school football commitments for those at private schools.

“It makes a lot easier for the schools, the players and us,” Turner said.

“And all the best players are playing every week, so there’s an advantage to that.

“What’s made it (raising the age limit) difficult in Victoria, but clubs like Bendigo, Gippsland and Ballarat (GWV Rebels) would be decimated by players going to uni in Melbourne or Geelong.

“But that’s easy to support. If Bendigo or Ballarat players are down at Geelong doing uni, they come and train with us, and then with the sides are picked, they go back and play with Bendigo and Ballarat.”

All Falcons staff, of which there are about 50 on the payroll, have been stood down

“I’m employed by the AFL, and I’m full-time, but there’s other Falcons staff in roles that have part-time AFL contracts, some are contractors – like physios and doctors.

“And we have a volunteer staff that sign agreements to work for a designated amount of money, which might be $1000.”

Turner, who turned 65 in December and has been in the role at Highton Reserve since 1995, is keen to be at the helm when the Falcons return.

“I love it. I’m 65, but I like to think of myself as a young 65,” he said.

“I’m certainly not going to walk away from it at this time because of my experience in this space, and I’d like to see it up-and-running for a year or two, and then say “that’s it”.

Twitter: @tom_king79