THE AFL is considering revamping its season for draft prospects next year as it looks at a number of changes to the talent pathway.
AFL.com.au understands the League has canvassed state bodies and clubs around a range of options for its 2021 plans, including a shuffling of the annual mid-year NAB AFL Championships.
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Under one proposal the League will look at moving the national carnival to close the season for draft prospects rather than be at the middle of the season.
The AFL has been discussing lifting the age groupings for its programs from under-16s and under-18s to under-17s and under-19s carnivals, but won't change the draft age from 18.
However the shift to an under-19s championships is seen as a way it could play the national talent festival closer to the annual end-of-year draft with a view that less draft hopefuls would be impacted close to their year 12 exam period.
It is also expected that a more condensed version of the championships later in the season could be staged in one location, with a form of the NAB AFL Draft Combine, with medical and athletic testing and interviews, running alongside it.
In recent years the championships has been played over a six-week period with teams travelling interstate regularly for matches before the final rounds are staged in Victoria.
The season structure could also see a window opened up in the middle of the year for prospects to play more at community level or for their schools which could, for instance in Victoria, mean a reduced amount of NAB League games.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, who was on the AFL's talent pathways subcommittee, has been a supporter of draft-eligible players featuring more for their local clubs away from what he described as "the elitist type of model".
Clubs are waiting for updates on how the Next Generation Academies could be built beyond 2020, with some chief executives anticipating changes to the structure of their currently in-house divisions.
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Hopes for a mini-carnival of the country’s best draft prospects in October this year, alongside a scaled back national Combine, have dived after Victoria's second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
However representative games within talent hubs – such as Western Australia's best 50 players splitting into teams for games, the same for South Australia – could still be run to ensure the leading draftees can play at representative level for recruiters.