IT’S FAIR to say COVID-19 had a big impact on AFL clubs in 2020, forcing some changes at the end of the season.
And for Melbourne, that led to an opportunity for improvement.
“The review also coincided with a fair bit of money getting taken out of the soft cap, so all clubs had to look at their people, their headcount,” GM of AFL Football Performance, Alan Richardson said.
“We knew that we had to make change, so there was a bit of the review, but there was a bit of just reality in terms of what happened.
“Because of the need for people to play many roles, we went with experience.
“So Mark Williams, who is head of development, also … has some specific focuses in the AFL program as well.
“Adem Yze not only does stoppage and midfield, but he also does our ball movement. Younger blokes wouldn’t have been able to handle that or cope with that.
“It was really pretty important that those people had also been involved with winning.
“So some pretty important decisions there that so far are going really well.”
On top of the personnel changes, responsibilities shifted as well.
For Richardson, he took on a new role, overseeing the performance side of the football department for the first time.
“It’s definitely different, there’s no coaching, really,” he said.
“Game day, because Goody coaches from the bench, I basically run the box, but it’s really Adem Yze, Troy Chaplin and Greg Stafford that are working out the problems.
“I just facilitate those conversations and make sure we’re throwing things down to Goody who’s down on the bench.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of their growth – our coaches, and all our staff for that matter, are improving and growing and have got a real sense of purpose with their work.
“It’s different, but I really enjoy it.”
A major focus of the reshuffle of sorts was to allow Richardson to invest all of his time into the team’s performance on-field, and that seems to be paying dividends.
“This year we decided that we were going to split the role – that it was just going to be a focus of someone to just focus on the performance of the team, not get caught up in the operational side of the footy department,” he said.
“So Daniel McPherson does that.
“I don’t have to worry about facility, or ground condition, or necessarily dealing with the AFL on some of the operational issues.
“That’s probably narrowed the focus a little bit in terms of leadership of the footy department and AFL team in particular.”
To hear more from Richardson on Sportsday, listen below.