TWO Hampden league club presidents have called for the Geelong Falcons to be more flexible with releasing their players on TAC Cup development weekends.
Terang Mortlake’s Frank O’Connor and Camperdown’s Rob Van Den Eynde said clubs deserved to play their home-grown talents on weekends of no TAC Cup football.
AFL Victoria designates four weekends during the season as “development weekends” — one each in May, June, July and August.
The weekends exist to allow TAC Cup clubs to deliver an AFL Victoria-mandated training program, which aims to make their players more well-rounded.
But clubs are free to deliver the program when they wish and many release their players on development weekends.
The Falcons, however, typically take advantage of the football-free days and call their players in.
O’Connor said the teens would benefit from returning to their communities and that bush fans deserved to see their young players in action.
“I’m not saying it’s not a good idea to have a PD day, but it’s crap the amount of football these kids miss at their home clubs,” he said.
“Last year on one particular day the kids had done the PD stuff for the weekend, they were at the under 18 game in the morning and told they couldn’t play.
“They finished at 10 in the morning and ran water for their teammates.”
O’Connor said the Falcons could work Hampden league football in with their off-field sessions: “They could do that on Sunday”. Part of clubs’ frustration stems from seeing North Ballarat Rebels players return to their rivals when they don’t have access to their Falcons-listed players.
Van Den Eynde questioned why the Falcons couldn’t use a similar methodology to the Rebels, who fulfil their development requirements differently.
“If it’s good enough for the Rebels it’s good enough for the Falcons,” he said.
“We’re not trying to poach them every second weekend, you just want to see your own flesh and blood.”
Geelong Falcons regional manager Mick Turner defended the club, which has an enviable record of producing AFL players.
He said Hampden region players only trained with the club once a week, and so it was important they attended development sessions.
Workloads and injuries were other reasons not to release players.
“The thing they don’t get in the Hampden region is the boys who travel only train with us one night a week,” he said.
“Quite often on development weekends we’ll get the Hampden boys down because we want to get another training session in them.
“That might be a series of lectures about nutrition, core stability session, weights session.
“They’ve got to be treated equally with the Geelong boys.”
Turner said the club’s decisions were solely “in the best interests of the player”.
“Even though we’re both TAC Cup clubs, the Rebels have a different program,” he said.
“The Acacia program, they might’ve run at a full weekend and got it out of the road.
“We ran it over four weekends.”