AFLX Debut Hailed By Coaches And Players
The AFLX experiment could be a monster success as coaches, players and fans instantly warmed to the short format.
The debut of the abbreviated format in Adelaide on Thursday night has been hailed a resounding triumph by all involved.
Fans flocked to the fresh format; players loved it; and coaches welcomed both the spectacle and benefit for their teams.
About 10,253 spectators attended Coopers Stadium and watched Adelaide win the inaugural AFLX grand final.
The Crows pipped Geelong by eight points in the last of seven games crammed into a tick over three and a half hours.
Geelong coach Chris Scott led a chorus of approval for the format, featuring seven players a side and played on a soccer-sized, rectangular field.
Scott said the format appealed not only as an elite-level spectacle, but would be an invaluable game for children to learn Australian Rules football.
"Our footy club really supports the concept," Scott said.
"We think it not only has a good chance at the top level but probably more importantly, it has a good chance to succeed at the amateur level, and internationally as well.
"I have a view, and I think it's shared by a few of the senior coaches around the competition, that 18 (players) versus 18 on a huge field is not the right way to go for young kids who can only kick the ball 30 metres.
"I think this (AFLX) is a really good way to learn the game."
And Scott had a simple message for traditionalists likely to baulk at the razzle-dazzle of AFLX: flashing LED goal-posts, frequent loud music during play, and at-ground commentary.
"Too bad," Scott said.
"We're at the stage where we have got to move past those sort of negative people.
"They don't have to watch.
"But they're the same people that don't like Twenty20 (cricket) either and I think that is succeeding in spite of them."
Scott's views were supported by other coaches including Collingwood assistant Robert Harvey.
"From a coaching point of view, I think it's a great concept," Harvey said.
Players universally expressed enjoyment of the format while noting the fast pace of the games.
"It's a fun game," Fremantle's acting captain Michael Walters said.
"But you have also got to play the team game as well as the individual game.
"There's a lot of flashy stuff that is going to happen out there but if the team does't work as a unit, it can go pear-shaped very quickly."