AFL LEGEND Kevin Sheedy has seen just about everything the game has to offer – but he is continuing to find ways to make the game better.
After stepping aside from his final coaching position at the GWS Giants in 2013, the 73-year-old has toured the country listening to opinions on the game – in both metropolitan and regional areas.
His efforts post-coaching has only amplified what has was able to do during his coaching tenure – launching the Anzac Day game between Collingwood and Essendon in 1995 and creating the Dreamtime game between the Bombers and Richmond in 2005.
And soon after hanging up the magnet board, he helped to establish the country game between Essendon and Geelong, first played in 2016.
But he was only able to do it because he listened.
“It’s great to communicate to the people who love the game and love sport in general in Australia,” Sheedy told the Riv at the Lions Club grand final luncheon.
“By moving around Australia, I started to realise we needed to understand indigenous people and that’s why we started recruiting aboriginal boys and created Dreamtime.
“I’ve been coming to the (Goulburn Valley) area for a while now and I’ve visited a lot of the towns which have been affected by the drought.
“When you get around and talk to people, they like to tell you about how they see the game which is important.
“We are a great sporting country where everyone wants to be heard and it all helps to drive the game forward.”
While Sheedy’s biggest achievements are often seen by the large crowds which flock to the MCG, personally he said the off-field success made him most proud.
“I think creating AFL SportsReady is my biggest contribution along with Bill Kelty and Simon Crean and a few other people from the Liberal party,” he said.
“It was a bi-partisan situation where we got 16,400 kids a job. It’s a very powerful program which allows kids who don’t necessarily got great marks at year 12 to possibly get a job as a trainee.
“And how we did that was by putting a $1 surcharge on every finals ticket since the 1990s and a lot of people don’t know that unless I tell them.
“It all comes back to talking to people.”