Letter from AFL England President Will Shillibier

Dear AFL England Community,

I’ve made the decision not to stand for re-election as AFL England President at the AGM next month. This has not been an easy decision to make, but changes in my work situation have meant that will no longer be able to commit as much time to the role as I would like.

The AFL England AGM (announced here) will elect a new President and committee who will continue to grow the sport in the wake of the pandemic and improve opportunities for all.

Following the AGM there will be a transition period for the incoming President, something that I will be actively involved in. The plan is for them to take full charge in time for the 2022 season.

My first involvement with AFL England came in Spring 2018, starting out as Head of Media. When Jason Hill departed in September 2019, I assumed his responsibilities as President. Few could have expected the upheaval that would follow just months later.

No photo description available.The pandemic affected all aspects of the game, from the National University League Grand Finals being cancelled, the entire 2020 domestic season getting wiped out, and the postponement of the 2020 AFL International Cup.

This year clubs wrangled with Return to Play guidance as the game gradually returned, and I’m delighted that at long last Australian rules football was played in this country once again. The leagues returned over the summer, the new NUL season has already begun, the Great Britain and England national teams have resumed training and playing, and all signs point to a return to some level of normality in 2021.

Although as President I have not experienced as much football being played over the past two years, I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this amazing sport, and interacting with the amazing clubs, players, coaches, umpires and physios this country has.

During my tenure, both as Head of Media and President, the National University League has grown from strength to strength. The league has contributed a number of players to the Great Britain men’s and women’s teams, as well as the national sides of England, Wales and Poland.

This year in London, five different teams won flags showing the quality of football on display in our nation’s capital. The Central & Northern England league has been instrumental in using nine-a-side football to create a new generation of talent. The introduction of the Women’s Wales and England 9s (WWE 9s) has allowed women’s football to flourish across the country.

I know that many will see my departure as a surprise, but I have every confidence that my replacement will put their own mark on AFL England just as I have done. I wish them well.

With best wishes to all,

Will Shillibier




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