The WA Football Commission has flagged the potential for a higher draft age for AFL players, along with giving control over the state’s colts competition back to WAFL clubs.
Mr Martin, who was appointed to the role last November, recently told the state parliament’s public accounts committee that the WAFC would consider returning management of the colts competition to the nine WAFL clubs if they met certain criteria.
“If they’re up for it, and they can demonstrate that the program won’t suffer, we are – and we have indicated this to the clubs – very happy to entertain proposals for the devolution of local service delivery,” he said.
Mr Martin stressed that WAFL clubs needed to be more community oriented in their management of the second-tier AFL competition.
He also told the committee that the draft age should be increased to 19, noting that 18 was too young an age for players, especially if they were drafted to a club in the eastern states.
The committee also heard concerns about participation and retention rates, noting young players who didn’t make the national league were often lost to the system.
The Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries appeared before the committee today, as part of a broader inquiry into the use of state funding by the WAFC.
The committee questioned the department on its relationship with the WAFC, and its obligations under a funding agreement with the football commission, which received $11.2 million in state government support last year.
Executive director Sport and Recreation Kim Elwood said the department worked closely with the WAFC.
"We don't necessarily investigate what they do everyday, that's not our role as government, but we provide support when they require it," she said.
The committee was concerned about the declining participation rate in the state's colts competition, stressing that the department had an obligation to engage with the WAFC on the issue.
But department director general Duncan Ord said the state government had engaged with the WAFC, as well as with individual sporting clubs and parties associated with the AFL.
He said while the AFL was in direct competition for talent with other sports, the league was active in developing pathways for talent, noting the AFL's AusKick program.
The department has a broader role, Ms Elwood said, which is to ensure safe and active community participation across WA, as well as opportunities for regional-based athletes.
"The [WAFC] provides us their strategic plan and we work with them on their outcomes," she said.
The public accounts committee is scheduled to meet with the WAFL on Monday, along with the South Perth Junior Football Club and former AFL player, Ron Alexander.