Since turning professional in 1995, Jason Akermanis has become one of the AFL’s most talked-about players, even in his retirement from playing. Because of that, his opportunities to coach have been somewhat compromised. So, should someone take a chance on him?
His Pedigree Cannot Be Ignored
Throughout his 15-year professional career, Akermanis played for very reputable clubs in the AFL, including Brisbane Bears, Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs. Crucially, during this period of his playing career, the now 43-year-old helped the Lions secure three consecutive AFL Premiership titles between 2001 and 2003. Having become one of the Lions’ most talented players in his first few years with the team, the two-time Merrett-Murray Medal winner made four international appearances during the 1999-2000 season.
Although coaching qualities cannot be analysed through the successes of a player’s on-field careers, they do help to provide and insight into a professional’s approach to the sport and mental strength. In 2001, Akermanis was awarded the prestigious Brownlow Medal in the same season that he claimed one of his three premierships. Despite his off-field controversies towards the latter stages of his career, the Brownlow Medal signifies that, during his playing days, he was at one stage the fairest and best player in the AFL.
Moreover, following his departure from the Western Bulldogs in 2010, Akermanis went on to become the captain-coach of North Albury Football Club in the Ovens and Murray Football League, highlighting his desire to broaden his role within the popular Australian sport.
Would the Rewards Outweigh the Risk?
There can be no doubts surrounding the on-field abilities that Akermanis possessed during his playing days. However, as touched upon above, that doesn’t mean that his talents will transition well into making him a high-level coach. That said, it does raise the question as to whether the rewards would be worth taking a chance on the 43-year-old. According to one of the three-time Premiership winner’s teammates, Jonathan Brown, Akermanis would make a “fantastic coach”, but believes a lack of trust is hindering his progress in the next stage of his career.
In regards to experience and qualifications, Akermanis would, on the face of it, appear to be a superb option for many of the AFL’s top clubs, including the Lions, who, prior to the suspension of the season, were among the favourites to clinch the Premiership with Aussie Rules betting. As per his own admission, Akermanis has put himself forward for coaching roles within the AFL, but has been “laughed out of the place”, according to a report by Fox Sports.
Unfortunately for the 2001 Brownlow Medal winner, his past actions and controversies are now coming back to trouble him, but that doesn’t mean that he should be isolated from the AFL. While his application can be brought into question, the AFL’s Goal of the Year winner in 2002 has plenty to offer the next generation of rising talents, and he undoubtedly needs to be given a chance.
Returning to the Pinnacle May Take Time
Ultimately, although existing opportunities may appear limited, Akermanis may have to take a role outside of the AFL to show that he is capable of coaching at the highest level. Even though he has the credentials, prospective employers will want to witness a change in his mentality, one that places teamwork and togetherness at the forefront.