Heat on WAFC to lift academy
Heat on WAFC to lift academy

The WA Football Commission will be told to increase the resources allocated to the State academy or risk losing AFL funding after a poor under-18 national championships.

Though WA last night beat Vic Country 9.13 (67) to 10.5 (65) at Etihad Stadium, it was their only victory from six games and they finished last.

The performances stunned recruiters because WA won the under-16 national title two years ago when they were unbeaten.

Recruiters are concerned about the lack of development in draft-age players in recent years.

A change in development which meant WAFL clubs were given extra responsibility and academy staff numbers were reduced has coincided with the downturn.

AFL Academies development manager Michael Ablett said it was obvious that WA needed to change.

"It is somewhat of a concern, the cutback in resources that they've got in WA. It's something we certainly need to address and they've identified that as well," Ablett said.

"We've got some work to do with the grants that go to State leagues to make sure that talent is getting the right amount of resources out of that grant so they can put the right people in place to continue to get good players into the game."

Ablett described WA's 2012 under-16 team as "brilliantly talented individuals", but recruiters told _The West Australian _they had as few as eight names on their lists this year and many of the elite AFL Academy players had fallen from their radar.

"Realistically we need 12-15 players out of WA to restock the talent at AFL level," Ablett said.

"If we can't get that, I think it's a broader problem than just for the State of WA. We've got an issue for the game."

Ablett said WA needed a full-time employee to focus purely on football to assist WAFL talent manager Raff Guadagnino and coach Michael Pratt.

The WAFL enjoyed tremendous success when Robert Wiley filled that position but he was never replaced at the end of 2010.

However, WAFC general manager of pathways and competitions Steve Hargrave said funding wasn't to blame.

"All of the funding we get off the AFL is immediately put into our talent academies - the 16s and 18s," Hargrave said.

"Our funding model has not changed for the past three years.

"What we were putting into the State 18s three years ago is proportional this year. I don't see this year's result in the championships as a result of funding."

WA fought back from 31 points down in the second term yesterday to win in a thrilling finish. Perth's Clem Smith snapped the winning goal in the last minute.

Captain Brad Walsh, from Peel, won WA's most valuable player award for the titles.

The West Australian

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