AFL greats feature in new indigenous body

A major report by the AFL's new indigenous past players group is dedicated to the late Shane Yarran

The rise of indigenous players in the past two decades is one of the AFL's great success stories.

It's what happens to them next that worries a new support group.

Greats Michael O'Loughlin, Gavin Wanganeen and Peter Matera headline the 11-person indigenous past player group that has presented a report to league chief executive Gillon McLachlan.

Des Headland is president of the body, which also features former Fremantle AFLW player Kirby Bentley

It and the report are the results of a forum held late last year in Perth.

Dr Sean Gorman was commissioned to prepare the report, which looked at the experiences of 25 Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders once their AFL playing careers ended.

It is dedicated to former Fremantle player Shane Yarran, who died in April less than two years after his AFL career ended.

"Most of the players interviewed for the report speak glowingly about their experience playing in the AFL," the group said in a statement.

"But too many had bad experiences when their careers were done. Some report being cut dead after long careers with a club, never to be contacted again.

"Many left the game unprepared for life after footy, lacking qualifications, job skills and support to find employment.

"Far too many went from well-paid playing contracts to financial hardship in a short period."

It is instructive that there are only three indigenous assistant coaches in the AFL this season - Andy Lovell (Gold Coast), Roger Hayden (Fremantle) and Xavier Clarke (Richmond).

Graham "Polly" Farmer (Geelong) and Barry Cable (North Melbourne) are the only indigenous senior coaches in AFL history.

The new group's main goal is to improve opportunities for indigenous players once they retire.

The AFL aims to have its first indigenous commissioner by the end of the year.

"This report presents a great opportunity for the whole industry to improve our cultural understanding and partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," McLachlan said.