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Q&A with new list manager Mark Micallef

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Fremantlefc.com.au spoke to Mark Micallef for his announcement as the club's new list manager. Fead below for the full Q&A.

Congratulations on the new role. How does it feel to be on board at Freo?
Absolutely excited. I can’t wait to get started and I’m looking forward to working with such a well-established football club and I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and working with everyone involved. I can’t wait. 

Take us through your past experience in the AFL.
I worked for Gold Coast out of Melbourne as a full-time recruiter. I started off working with Adelaide when I was 18 and worked for them for four years and then I started working at Essendon, initially as a football analyst for a year. I worked under Adrian Dodoro and Merv Keane in the recruiting department for five years with Essendon doing various roles such as Next Generation Academy, pro scouting, list management as well working in the generalised recruiting pathway.
Then I went to the Gold Coast working under Scott Clayton and Craig Cameron for a year a piece in my two years there. Working out of Melbourne and being a national recruiter that observes all talent as well as looking at all of the different list management functions, the pro scouting brief and so forth. That’s a basic overview. 

You’ll be based in Perth. Does this indicate a prioritisation of local talent?
No I wouldn’t say so. It’s a national competition and we have David Walls as our national draft manager (in Melbourne), so we’re still looking at talent all around Australia. It’s about being there with the playing group and understanding what we need from a whole football club capacity and having a line across all of the different departments. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Where do you see Freo list is at?
I think the list has some super exciting pillars. I think with our key defensive stocks with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling, with Griffin Logue coming through and the addition of Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb and Cam McCarthy. I think the key position stocks at either end are really strong. With the midfield, losing Lachie Neale isn’t ideal but there is some strong and promising young talent in Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra and there’s a superstar in Nat Fyfe. I think the list is in really good shape, really exciting shape and something that has the strong pillars that can achieve sustained success. That’s what attracted me to the role initially.

There were a lot of changes with the draft this year. What did you make of it?
It was a really different process. Live trading added a really exciting element I thought. What it came down to, if you really like a player and your recruiting team is really buoyant about someone, you can go out and get them and can make a trade then and there. You have to know the draft pool really well and I think Fremantle really capitalised getting Luke Valente through the door with the pick they did. He was slipping down the order and watching on from a different club perspective, I was very surprised at (Valente slipping). When you saw Fremantle make that trade, you could understand what they were doing as they obviously rated Luke really highly. I think it just adds a whole different dimension that we as a footy industry still have to get better at as I think you can really maximise the live trading on the night.

Where do you think the whole industry is heading?
It’s going somewhere that I think involves a strong alignment with everyone in the organisation. We are going to look at things a bit differently. We’re going to really encompass everyone within the organisation and really understand what’s going on internally and externally find the pieces to complete our puzzle. There’s the old saying that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ so we’ll have to be patient. It’s understanding what the coaches need and understanding how we as a recruiting and list management function can deliver all of those pillars for success. It’s something that I think is really important.

What will be your first tasks when get to club?
The first task will be building a relationship with everyone, from the admin staff, football department, playing group and coaches. That’s the first task, understanding where the playing list is at, understanding where we think we need to improve and getting a really strong depth of understanding the salary cap, how it all looks as well. It’s building those relationships with everyone, that will be the first task.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs