THE AFL has announced that retired St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes has been awarded the 2014 Ron Evans Scholarship which will see the former Saints midfielder take up a 12-month employment opportunity with the AFL.

The Ron Evans Scholarship is designed to assist a retired player looking to move into football administration after his playing career.

Hayes this year closed the curtain on a decorated 297-game career with St Kilda. During his 16 years with the Saints he was a club captain, a triple best and fairest winner, a triple All Australian, played in two Grand Finals and was a Norm Smith medallist.

Hayes’ role with the AFL, commencing December 1, 2014, will see him involved in a number of key initiatives across a range of portfolios, including player education and welfare programs, national umpiring and talent programs, supporting the Laws of the Game Committee, commercial and strategic initiatives and developing content for AFL Media. 

He will also serve as a member of the All Australian selection panel.

The scholarship recognises the late Ron Evans’ contribution to the game as a player, with Essendon and West Perth, and as an administrator, as Essendon president, an AFL Commissioner and then chairman of the AFL Commission.

The scholarship was established by the Evans family after Ron passed away in 2007. Previous recipients of the award are Scott Lucas and Brad Johnson.

AFL general manager of football operations Mark Evans said Hayes was a worthy recipient of the award and would be an asset to the Australian Football industry in his role with the AFL.

“Few former players are as universally respected as Lenny Hayes, which owes much to the courage and leadership he displayed throughout his entire career with St Kilda,” he said.

“As a retired player looking to pursue a career in football administration, Lenny is truly a worthy recipient of an award that acknowledges Ron Evans’ incredible contribution to our game as both a player and an administrator.

“We’re delighted a person of Lenny’s calibre is joining the AFL. He’ll unquestionably benefit the AFL industry as a whole and we look forward to him bringing valuable insight, leadership and knowledge to a host of programs across all levels of the game.”

Hayes said he was looking forward to broadening his experience across the AFL industry: “I appreciate the opportunity provided by the Evans family to continue my involvement in Australian Football.

“I want to learn as much as I can across the various parts of our game's administration as I work out where I want to direct my energies now that my playing time has come to an end.”

Andrea Evans said she and her family were delighted to make the Ron Evans Scholarship available.

“Ron was a great advocate of players preparing for life after football and through this scholarship, our family is pleased to support a high quality young man like Lenny Hayes to develop his career in football administration,” Mrs Evans said.