Aaron Cadman reacts after being taken with the No.1 pick in the 2022 AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

ANDREW Dillon's plan to lift the atmosphere of the AFL Draft and build the event has seen prospects encouraged to bring up to 20 family and friends to the opening night in just over two weeks.

A group of around 15 draftees were officially given their invitations to attend the first night of the draft on Thursday.

In the past, players have been restricted in how many people they can bring to the event, but footage coming from homes of draftees in recent years with groups celebrating the achievement of being selected has resonated with headquarters.

It has seen the AFL ask players to bring a larger group to create those moments in the draft room as their names are called in the first round on November 20 at Marvel Stadium.  

Dillon, the League's new chief executive, told AFL.com.au's Gettable in June that the AFL had taken some inspiration from the Zoom calls held during the COVID-impacted drafts of previous years to bolster the event.

"One of the good things from COVID was when we had the Zoom calls and you saw the players in their own houses where they're so relaxed with their friends and their dogs. That was really great vision. If there was a way we could bring some of that to our event, I think it would be great," he said.


"Maybe, for the boys from Victoria, they could invite their Coates Talent League teammates along to come and cheer them on. I think that would provide a bit more atmosphere. That's what I'd be looking for, you want the players to really enjoy it. It's a massive, massive achievement to get drafted. The hard work starts there, but you also can't forget the hard work that's been put into it.

"At the moment, they might come with mum and dad and a couple of siblings. If they could share that with their family, but also their friends – we might keep the pets out – I think something like that would add a bit to the night."

With bids for Academy players and father-sons adding to the already 22 selections in the first round of the draft due to compensation picks, the first round of the draft could stretch to around 27 selections on the opening night.

Jed Walter celebrates a goal during the round 7 Coates Talent League Boys match between GWV Rebels and Gold Coast Suns Academy at Ikon Park, May 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

It has seen the League invite around 15 players to attend proceedings in Melbourne, with the likes of Harley Reid, Colby McKercher, Zane Duursma, Jed Walter, Ryley Sanders, Nate Caddy, Nick Watson, Daniel Curtin and Jake Rogers all heading to the event.

Late riser Caleb Windsor, Tasmanian talent James Leake and Murray prospect Darcy Wilson have also all been invited, with West Australian Koltyn Tholstrup also on the invite list.