Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a prominent Melbourne child and adolescent psychologist, puts his voice into the AFL Western District 26-player cap debate

BACK TO DRAWING BOARD: Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg believes AFL Western District needs to get its act together. Picture: Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media)
BACK TO DRAWING BOARD: Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg believes AFL Western District needs to get its act together. Picture: Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media)

A YOUTH mental health expert has called for AFL Western District to get its act together in response to the debate surrounding the 26-player cap rule.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a prominent Melbourne child and adolescent psychologist, joined many south-west parents in voicing their anger towards the proposed rule change, which would limit the number of children who can play at Hampden and Warrnambool and District football netball league clubs.

“It’s crucial that AFL Western District get their act together and organise themselves better,” Carr-Gregg said.

“We know that 90 per cent of kids are not getting enough physical exercise, so from a global perspective this issue is terrible, because we need kids to be running around and we need them to huff and puff and exercise.

“We also know the greatest predictor of well-being in young people is hanging out with their mates, so by stopping them from doing that you’re also not only impacting on their physical well-being you’re also impacting on their psychological well-being.”

Carr-Gregg stated that AFL Western District needed to rethink about the implications of the rule.

“Well I think that if they provide a resource for a community it has to be an adequate one, and quite clearly this is not,” he said.

“They need to adequately meet the needs of the community by providing enough places so that all kids who want to participate, can participate. Is that rocket science no, to me it's just from the university of bleeding obvious.”

The youth mental health expert said parents had done what he would have recommended they do in regards to the issue.

“I would protest, I would go to the media, I would ring my local and federal politicians – this is a really big issue,” he said.

“You can't just leave it, you have got to escalate it, that is what I would be doing.”

The Standard’s Facebook page has been inundated with parents and commentators joining the debate on the issue. 

Parent Lucas Wilson has been the strongest of the voices in the debate thus far, starting a petition to get the rule changed. 

That petition has gained traction on Facebook in recent days, with 467 people already signing the petition to get AFL Western District to amend the rule. 

Maureen Colledge joined the debate commenting her issue was with the physical issues associated with the proposed rule change.

While Mony La Vee voiced her concerns in regards to her son.

“Our son who has turned 12 before the 1 Jan cut-off date will be ineligible to play for under 12s… and with this cap it will be near impossible for him to get a game in the next age bracket,” she wrote.

“It will be goodbye to football for this family and no doubt for many others in the league, too.

“How is this decision protecting the future of football in our area? Please explain as I will need to break this to my boy who loves his footy!”