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Sacked Carlton Blues coach Daniel Harford tells club to ‘get serious’ after independent review

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Sacked Carlton coach Daniel Harford says the club has been too focused on the men’s program, to the detriment of AFLW success which operated on “the smell of an oily rag”.

Speaking on his breakfast radio show on RSN, Harford called for the Blues to “get serious with the program” after the club “took their eye off the ball with the AFLW”.

An independent review into Carlton’s AFLW program found that the senior coach position needed to be full-time, and that there was “at times confusion with the game plan and lack of alignment and consistency with its implementation”.

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The review also criticised professionalism on the part of the players, saying “opportunity exists in the current AFLW environment for players to improve professional standards and elite behaviours, to build and maintain an effective, high-performance culture”.

But Harford, who led the Blues to a grand final in 2019 and a semi-final victory in 2020, said the AFLW program was “chicken and the egg stuff” when trying to take on a more professional approach.

The program wasn’t given the same attention as the men. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Supplied

“You’ve got part time athletes who have other lives, who are trying to find and squeeze this life into their world – it’s a challenge for all involved in the competition let alone the players and the staff,” he said on RSN.

“It’s a bit of chicken and the egg stuff – if you can pay them to a position where you can make this a more full-time or almost full-time situation, then those things will rise with it.

“I think perhaps there was an eye taken off the AFLW program. They give themselves a bit of a clip in the release (from the Blues’ AFLW review), as well, where they say that the review found a clear vision for AFLW was required.

“They’ve admitted they took their eye off the ball with the AFLW program and left us to run our own race a bit, without the support that perhaps we needed off the smell of an oily rag.”

A similar review undertaken for the men’s program saw the departure of David Teague in 2021.

Carlton president Luke Sayers said Harford, who played 153 games for Hawthorn, wasn’t able to “service the role in a full-time capacity”, and subsequently had parted ways with the club.

Harford was contracted in the role for a further 15 months, but when asked on air whether the parting of ways was mutual, he was less than diplomatic.

“I think if you’ve got a year to go on your deal, you’re probably sacked. That’s ok. We can say that,” he said.

He said judging a part-time program on full-time standards was a skewed position and that players likewise couldn’t be judged on part-time schedules.

It’s been a rough patch for the Blues. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“I’m still not 100 per cent convinced of what high performance in a part time program actually is,” he said.

“If you are measuring high-performance in the women’s program from the men’s program’s high-performance expectations perspective, then you’re in the wrong room as far as I’m concerned.

“If you’ve got part-time people who are getting there four o’clock, five o’clock three or four nights a week depending on the training week, trying to develop and initiate this high performance program after working their other jobs for the day … that’s a real challenge.

“The club need to invest.

“From a Carlton perspective, there’s clearly been a real focus on the boy’s program in the last while.”

Being involved in an athletic recovery business as well as with media commitments, Harford says he won’t be coaching in 2023, and says he is looking forward to “(having) weekends in footy season for the first time in 30 years.

“It’s going to be incredible.

“I’ve been very blessed… (AFLW) has been truly a life changing experience for me in footy and in life.”


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