Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has dismissed suggestions private school football is taking priority over underage football.
Lloyd, who coaches Haileybury in the Associated Public Schools (APS) competition, was responding to Jake Niall’s article in The Age, which outlined the growing influence of private schools in the makeup of AFL draftees.
According to the report, 24.3 percent of players picked in the 2018 AFL national draft were from APS schools.
Lloyd said it wasn’t the fault of the schools themselves for the trend, rather choosing to praise the opportunity to combine study and football in the lead up to potentially being drafted.
“I know some will say it’s decimating local schools,” he said on Sportsday.
“But I know from Haileybury’s perspective, if you’re not academically strong you don’t walk into Haileybury.
“We just feel we’re giving kids a wonderful opportunity to better themselves not just as footballers but more importantly what they want to do for the future away from sport.
“Why wouldn’t you want to give your kids those opportunities if you can get them.”
Lloyd said Haileybury were under strict instructions not to disrupt any underage football commitments a player may have.
“If our players are with their NAB League (underage) team, you are not to train until two weeks away from the season,” he said.
“We won’t see our players two weeks out from round one which makes it difficult to prepare properly but those are the rules that are set up to ensure (the boys) aren’t being overloaded.
“I look at Dustin Martin – if you’re good enough and want it enough you’ll get an AFL opportunity whether you’re at the local school or at an APS school.
“Everyone will keep coming from different walks (of life).”
Listen to Matthew Lloyd's comments on Sportsday in the player below.