Essendon chief executive Ian Robson believes Wednesday’s player welfare summit was a significant moment for the AFL industry.
As one of a handful of Club CEO’s working in the industry eight years ago when the Illicit Drug Policy was first introduced, Robson is adamant the 2013 summit will prove to be an important exercise.
“The positive from the club’s perspective is the last time for a whole range of industry and complicated issues the club’s weren’t really a stakeholder in this conversation,” Robson said.
“Yesterday was the first opportunity since then to get everyone in the room be it medical experts, the PA, members of the player board, the police and a range of other experts to show how the policy has performed and what are the emerging trends within society that we need to be mindful of as we move forward.”
Robson, along with AFL club chief executives, Gary Pert (Collingwood) and Travis Auld (Gold Coast) will join a working party comprising of representatives from the AFL, AFLPA and medical experts.
“I think there is a real role for us to play and that was recognized for the first time yesterday and enshrining the club’s as part of the working group moving forward is a real tangible measure of how well that message was received.”
“The club’s have a genuine intent to want to be part of the solution.”
“It is not just about how we go about developing them as footballers but developing them as good, fine, young men to go into the community after their football journey.”
Bombers coach James Hird was on the board of the AFLPA when the policy was introduced in 2004 and has had conversations about the policy with Robson prior to yesterday’s summit.
“We went into the meeting with a clear commitment to supporting the policy and have had a number of conversations internally,” Robson said.
“I also spoke with Jobe and the leadership group and our commitment very much mirrors that of the policy which is to the health and wellbeing of the players and we are unequivocal about that.”
A number of issues were discussed during Wednesday’s summit including the alcohol and drug policy.
“There were a number of things that came up yesterday that whether we were listening as club CEO’s or as parents, some of the things we heard were really confronting in regard to emerging trends not just here but overseas.”
“I think it would be folly to suggest that you are ever on top of it but I think the critical thing is that you always ensure you have a vigilance around education, communication and ensuring those that need help get it.”
“For those individuals that literally thumb their nose at the policy we need to ensure that those individuals are isolated and punished as appropriate but not in a manner that pulls the whole frame work down.”