Future Stars Being Watched Online
PROSPECTIVE AFL recruits beware - one of the country's top talent spotters says recruiters are now trawling social media sites to check the off-field habits of future football stars.
As the off-field credentials of young AFL recruits become more and more important in the sanitised surroundings of professional football, clubs are going to greater lengths to make sure they are picking up good citizens as well as good players.
That has stretched to online monitoring, with Carlton's recruiting manager Shane Rogers telling the club website a young players' digital identity can tell him as much as a beep test or a vertical leap recording.
"I am a stalker, I get on Facebook and Twitter and have a look and I tell the kids that when I go and see them," Rogers said.
"You would be staggered, because most kids have not got their Facebook and Twitter sites locked.
"So you can get in a find out a fair bit.
"Technology is not a bad thing, but it is a very good thing when you are trying to spy on people."
Background checks into footballers is not a new phenomenon, with Collingwood going so far as to hire a private investigator to keep an eye on Ben Cousins when they were considering recruting the fallen Eagle.
The Pies sent the former Victorian police detective to Perth to survey Cousins' behaviour and social circle, before the powerhouse ultimately decided against the Brownlow medallist him up.
Rogers said talking to friends and teachers of recruits was an important part of the drafting process.
"You would be amazed, we talk to school teachers and we talk to people outside of their normal footy life," Rogers said.
And a survey last year showed that over one third (36 per cent) of Australian employers now check potential candidates’ Facebook profiles before offering them the job.
The survey of finance and accounting professionals, and hiring managers in Australia, was conducted by Robert Half International.
The AFL Players' Association have already cracked down on player agents using social media to lure young clients.
Some junior club representatives claimed players as young as 15 were receiving congratulatory letters from player agents, and one club complained of a player agent organising and paying for a limousine for a potential client's school formal.
Clubs in Victoria's TAC Cup junior competition have also confirmed instances of players being approached by managers via Facebook and Twitter.