AFL preparing to launch Twenty20-style game
THE AFL is reportedly preparing to launch a Twenty20-inspired version of the game later this year that is seen as the answer to opening up international markets.
After months of secret trials, AFLX - a high-octane, seven-a-side version of football played on soccer-sized grounds with quarters shortened to 10 minutes - is being slated to be shown off to fans on the pre-finals bye weekend this year.
The AFL says it is looking to showcase the new version of the game between the best players from teams that miss this year's finals series.
Prizemoney and incentives are being discussed, while matches could be televised nationally on Fox Footy.
The Herald Sun reported in February that Port Adelaide was putting its weight behind the AFLX concept as it looks to grow the game in China.
"We've had Auskick and AFL approved by the Chinese education department in Beijing to be an approved sport to play at school," Power chairman David Koch said.
"So they're massive steps forward for us to try the game up there. But it's all about the field and that's why sevens is a way better option."
AFL football operations boss Simon Lethlean said at the time that AFLX had a point of difference that could attract new fans.
"Any time you can get the best players playing in a different, fun format, I think it's shown it can be successful in other sports and we think our product's as good as everyone's so we're trying to find different ways and options to play," he said.
The AFL trialled the concept with North Melbourne during the pre-season and made adjustments after a series of further practice matches between players from VFL sides.
Port Melbourne coach and former Hawthorn champion Gary Ayres was part of the trials and said in March he was a fan of AFLX.
"It is very, very fast. It's very much about high-scoring, fast play," he said.
"If you get burnt on a turnover or a poor kick or poor decision, generally you get scored against and scored against very quickly. It's a bit like (the ball is) up one end one second and then up the other end in another.
"If you can retain possession, you can certainly score and score quite heavily."