By Kyle Power
“I OWE the club a lot; I can’t see myself playing anywhere else. I want to remain a one club player.” How many times do we hear this old cliché?
Player loyalty in both the Australian Football League and country football is at an all time low; the traditionalists and passionate supporters that have been in and around football clubs for a long time, would be shaking their heads in dismay with players switching clubs and changing a reputation by simply putting ink on paper.
Player payments are also sky rocketing in country football with some players earning in excess of $1,500 a game, that’s big money! The Goulburn Valley Football League are looking at introducing a salary cap/points system to limit the amount of highly paid players on a list, however I’m not overly confident that this will work as clubs are struggling to submit team sheets let alone tracking of player payments. We all understand that we need to pay big to win big but that is not always the case for chasing premiership glory.
The worrying trend that surrounds our current footballing status in country Victoria is the lure of big money for our ‘kids’ and players coming out of U18s. It’s concerning because not only are juniors taught to play for the love of the game and learning about the team aspect, this philosophy is changed when clubs throw bundles of cash at them.
The rise and fall of clubs that have had team success based on player loyalty win more games than they lose. Look at superstar and champion Full Forward, Saad Saad (Seymour Lions); a perfect example of player loyalty. With his ability, clubs would have been and possibly still are chasing his services, being a premiership player and centurion goal kicker, but he has stuck with the club as they have declined from their glory days to now developing into another challenging and dominate side. Saad will leave the game as one of country footballs’ greats for outstanding loyalty towards the Lions.
The football public, and whoever they may support, want to know and believe that each and every team member is committed to the cause, and that equates to team success.
The disappointing part of players switching clubs is that their minds have already been made up mid-year or after they look at what their mates are doing and where they will be lining up the following year; like a mob of sheep, they follow the leader.
The positioning and strength of a team always has and will continue to be a key indicator on where an unsettled player will end up. Lower sides don’t have a chance to secure the services of a talented junior.
Money rules the world but loyalty, honesty and playing with your mates for team success will always pay the higher dividend. ‘Footy’ has changed and for the betterment of the game, I hope it continues to blossom for all the right reasons.
Kyle Power is a member of the OneFM 98.5 football commentary team and can be heard every Saturday morning from 9:30am.