The AFL has flagged the likelihood that a one-off representative/‘All Stars’ game will replace the NAB Cup in season 2014, a concept that is likely to please the players and fans. Concepts that have been proposed include ‘East vs. West’, a return of the State of Origin, as well as an ‘All Stars’ side taking on an all-indigenous side. Let’s take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each.
East vs. West:
Similar to the NBA, the AFL could employ an East vs. West game, where the western states and the western group of Victoria clubs, would face off against the eastern states and eastern group of Victorian clubs. In this scenario, West Coast, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, and Victorian clubs, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Essendon and Carlton would form the selection pool for the West side. The East team would be formed by players from Brisbane, Gold Coast, GWS, Sydney and Victorian clubs, St Kilda, Richmond, Melbourne, Collingwood and Hawthorn. With this division, an overall pool of talent is able to be distributed equally among both sides.
- There is a similar model in the NBA that is very successful
- It would avoid a ‘Victoria vs. the rest’ scenario, with this concept having Victorian clubs split between the two sides
- There would be an even distribution of quality among both teams, which would ensure a quality game of football
- Has the capacity to be a one-off game, not hugely time-consuming like a State of Origin carnival
- Broadcaster-friendly and also has the possibility to be a highly commercialised concept
- Not traditional state representation
- The separation of Victorian clubs is not an ideal scenario, but may have to do
State of Origin:
A State of Origin-style game similar to the one-off match in 2008 would probably be the only choice for the AFL, given it only wants one game and not a series of games like a traditional State of Origin carnival. The likely scenario would see a Victoria vs. ‘the rest’ scenario, which was hugely successful in 2008.
- Was a huge success in 2008
- The best possible way of incorporating some aspects of State of Origin
- Not time-consuming
- A win-win for broadcasters and the AFL
- Victoria is likely to be the only the state-represented team and some might call favouritism
- ‘The rest’ do not have the chance to represent their state, are rather representing an open-ended symbol of the ‘rest of Australia’
‘All Stars’ v Indigenous team:
This would perhaps be the most exciting and interactive option for the AFL and the fans. The AFL could incorporate a concept similar to the A-League’s, where the fans get to choose who lines-up for the ‘All Stars’. The Indigenous team, which has been established annually for a few years now and will be touring Ireland in October to play International Rules, would most likely not be picked by the fans, given the lesser pool of players to choose from. But then again, fan voting could work for both sides as it promotes the clash.
- Fan interactivity, would capture the imagination of footy fans and so the excitement surrounding the game would perhaps exceed all other forms of representative footy
- The match would be a terrific spectacle, showcasing the best of the Indigenous talent in the AFL.
- Further recognition of the Indigenous community
- A ‘feel good,’ friendly approach to the beginning of the season
- Broadcaster friendly
- Was a success in the A-League, and has been used in the NFL and MLS in America as well to great success
- The Indigenous team is already representing Australia in Ireland, some might say the Indigenous concept is being pushed too heavily by the AFL
- Some may argue the All-Australian side should be brought together to play instead of an ‘All-Stars’ team
Other possible concepts:
- All-Australian type game similar to the NBA, where first and second All-Australian teams are selected and then get the chance to play against each other
- Youth vs. Experience styled game (e.g. Under 23’s vs ‘the rest’)
- Premiers vs ‘best of the rest’