In what is a timely boost for the wider AFL Asia community – The AFL has announced that Asia Development Manager Simon Highfield will continue in his role during the 2021 season, which is exciting news that will create much needed solidarity and stability from an administrative standpoint and highlights the support and vision that the AFL has for the region moving forward.

Simon’s development experiences in the South Pacific region were essential to the initial appointment. Now that the position has been reconfirmed beyond the Covid challenges, the role can continue to drive value for footy across the region.

Simon was unfortunately among the 80% of AFL workforce employees who were stood down during three separate phases from late March, ultimately creating an enormous amount of uncertainty as to whether Simon would be reinstated in the role, given the AFL has restructured it’s business model to atone for the financial hit it has taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite circumstances not allowing football to be played as per normal, the AFL Asia Advisory Board (AAAB) and Simon have remained positive and focused on their short, medium and long-term goals of growing and developing the game in Asia and what that may look like post-COVID-19, albeit hamstrung somewhat as to what could be achieved until a decision was recently made about the crucial role continuing into 2021.

Although Simon will not officially return to his post until November 1st (commencement of the 2021 AFL financial year) the wheels are in motion to ensure that the Asia Development Manager’s position is sustainable beyond 2021 and that he and the AAAB are now able to refocus on their goals and outcomes in a more holistic manner and more importantly with the backing of the AFL.