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New underage competition to engage non-traditional AFL markets: Salter

AFL Head of Development Tristian Salter has outline the reasons behind proposed changes to junior football.

The new model would see the current under 18s TAC Cup competition move into a national setup, which would include a number of under-19 players.

Speaking on Afternoons, Salter said the league was keen to “bridge the gap” between the elite and underage level.

“It’s about consistency for kids, whether you’re based in metro Victoria, country Victoria or outback South Australia, when want them to have a similar experience,” he said.

“What this does mean is we can expose our non-traditional markets to our heartland so they can play against Victorian opponents on some of the Victorian grounds and that’s something we’re really excited about.”

“If this model gets up, the Giants, Swans, Lions and Suns could play Victorian opposition but we’ll make sure that’s scheduled in a way that doesn’t put the kids in a difficult situation from a schooling perspective.

Salter said he was confident under-18 kids would be able to continue balancing their football and academic commitments under the new model.

“We’re not looking to increase the number of games (the kids play) significantly,” he said.

“Instead of playing against in each other (in local academy games), they could be playing against Victorian opposition so the net result for a player in their 18th year shouldn’t be worse off.

Influential player manager Craig Kelly is involved in the proposal but Salter confirmed it was purely a commercial arrangement.

“Craig (Kelly) is a good businessman and his role has been to look at our currently assets and give us advice to sell them,” he said.

“We want to bring this competition to the next generation of fans. We want to capture good vision (of the games), push it out through different areas and we think that’s going to be really exciting and contribute to the familiarity the public will have with these kids.”

Click PLAY to hear Tristian Salter’s full chat on Afternoons