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AFLPA President, Peter Bell

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What is the AFLPA?

Published: 28/04/2006

The Australian Football League Players’ Association (AFLPA) has received considerable media attention of late for its support for increased testing for performance enhancing and illicit drug use by AFL players.

But what exactly is this association and how did it come about?

The AFLPA began in 1974 under the name of the Victorian Football League Players’ Association (VFLPA). The VFLPA acted as a governing body for settling player decisions and issues, including football pressures and match payments.

From late 1980 to early 1981, the VFL withdrew its support for the association and the VFLPA. However, due to player dissatisfaction and the subsequent threat of strikes from footballers in a practice match in 1981, the VFL was forced to re-accept the organisation.

The VFLPA changed its name to the AFLPA in 1990 as the competition began to receive national support. In 1993, the AFL withheld its support of the group and once more the players threatened to strike. By 1998, almost all AFL players were members of the AFLPA.

The purpose of the AFLPA is ultimately to serve footballers and ensure their concerns are heard. However, it also aims to provide a voice for players on AFL related issues, ensure players are fairly paid, consider the welfare of AFL players in terms of health and safety, provide a wide range of support, including legal advice, and to develop the game further with the AFL and its clubs.

The AFLPA has a mixture of current and past players on their Executive Committee, including Fremantle Dockers captain Peter Bell, President of the Players’ Association since 2003.

In an AFLPA news statement, Bell said the Committee consisted of a wide range of people that ensured adequate player representation.

“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience on the Executive, making sure we have representation from the various age groups and backgrounds of players,” he said.

“On a personal note I’m excited to be involved during such an important time for AFLPA.”

The Executive Committee also includes Collingwood captain Nathan Buckley, former Richmond player Brendon Gale and Sydney premiership player Adam Goodes.