What is Player Development?

Player Development exclusively focuses on supporting the off field or non-athletic pursuits of players. Player Development is holistic and encompasses both personal and professional development. It may include financial, educational and vocational endeavours, life skills and social, cultural and emotional development. Every AFL and AFLW program must employ a Player Development Manager (PDM) and every Club must employ an Indigenous Player Development Manager (IPDM). IPDMs facilitate the holistic development and social, cultural, and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) needs of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players. 

The AFL offers Player Development Managers the opportunity to access best practice guidance, supervision and professional development to support a continuity of care for wellbeing and ‘off field’ development across both AFL and AFLW. 

Annual Wellbeing and Player Development Gathering

In July 2023, the AFL and AFLPA came together, with the support of BHP and Deakin University, to deliver the inaugural Wellbeing and Player Development Gathering.  It was the first opportunity for all Club Player Development and Wellbeing staff to come together with AFL Talent Pathways and AFLPA Regional Managers, to explore the future of supporting players to thrive in football and in life.
The Gathering focused on three streams:

  • Influencing Change: Influencing and championing wellbeing and athlete development cultures in high performance sport
  • Social and Emotional Wellbeing: What is SEWB and what is effective allyship for First Nations Peoples' wellbeing
  • Futures thinking: The future alignment of player development and wellbeing

Best Practice Guidance in Player Development

In 2020, the AFLW Player Development: Principles of Best Practice was developed to support best practice in Player Development for AFLW Players.  The principles of best practice aim to guide the off field activities of AFLW, taking into consideration the unique needs of AFLW players.