Football violence a `wake-up call'

AFL TASMANIA admits to being concerned about the recent glut of violent incidents at football matches but hopes it is the wake-up call the state needs.

Speaking a day after Bridport life member Steve McKillop detailed how he received multiple facial fractures in a king hit and as the NTFA finalises the investigation into its division 2 grand final rematch brawl, Nick Probert said ``violence will not be tolerated throughout the Tasmanian football community''.

Nick Probert

Nick Probert

AFL Tasmania's community football general manager said the state body, and its parent organisation in Melbourne, were well aware of the spate of incidents which also involved a player being hospitalised during an under-16s Mother's Day match in Launceston and under-nines and colts games in Kingston and Cygnet being abandoned.

``It's very concerning to see such a large number of incidents in a small period of time,'' Probert said.

``There's no question the game needs to be played in the correct manner and these incidents are simply not acceptable.

``It's something in Tasmania we need to take stock of and hopefully it's a wake-up call.

``There is no point in trying to fix issues such as these once they have occurred, we need to prevent them happening in the first place.

``I think we're all on the same page about this, but our great difficulty is how to stop it.''

Probert said education and accreditation programs for coaches would help while regional clubs must take responsibility for their players, but acknowledged that instances of supporters and parents getting involved in trouble suggested the problem went a lot deeper.

``As an ex-coach myself I believe that leadership is fundamentally key to this. The coach can draw the line on what is acceptable and what's not, and players listen to the coach.

``There are hundreds of games played at a community level and we need to get the message through about the importance of culture.

``The most important thing is that the game is conducted in a safe, inclusive and friendly manner. That's more important than winning or making enough money or anything else.''

Probert, whose role is to support and develop footy in Tasmania, said of particular concern was the May 10 brawl which led to the abandonment of the Old Scotch versus Fingal match at the NTCA Ground. An investigation into the incident was not expected to be completed before the NTFA's board meeting last night.

``While I cannot pre-empt what they are going to find, any violence on the field is extremely concerning but when multiple players are involved it is an especially worrying trend.''

Probert said the recent restructuring of AFL Tasmania had seen the Tasmanian Football Council take over managing all football below the State League.

TFC chairman Kyron Johnson said: ``While the spate of recent incidences is concerning, the TFC will be sending a very clear message that violence will not be accepted at any level of the game.''

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