Coast researchers helping Saints kick on post-coronavirus
Changing structures driven by the coronavirus shutdown have led one of the AFL’s biggest clubs to the door of Coast-based researchers.
St Kilda Football Club have sought out the expertise of Professor Paul Salmon and Dr Scott McLean, from the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems to undertake system modelling of the club’s operations, as it negotiates the post-pandemic world of AFL.
St Kilda’s chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said the remodelling of the football department had been sparked by what were expected to be long-lasting effects of COVID-19.
He said their department had reduced from about 50 staff to 25-30, and the AFL had directed a reduction of about $3.5 million in football spend, as a result of the pandemic.
Mr Lethlean, whose club was currently based at the RACV Noosa Resort, said there was no doubt the health crisis would have long-lasting effects.
He said they’d reached out to the local researchers to help assess ways to make people more cross-functional, as they look to implement their football program in the new environment, having heard about their previous work with Sunshine Coast Lightning.
Mr Lethlean said the project had been a “really good, educational piece” for the club, and once their two-week isolation ended, they hoped to catch up with Dr McLean and Prof Salmon for further discussions about the project.
Dr McLean said they’d spent a few months modelling the football club’s whole system, including functions, tasks, constraints, and looked at every staff member and their role.
He said their work had been used with the Lightning, in parasport and in defence and road safety, and was highly applicable to sport systems.
But he said he understood it was a world first in terms of the way a professional AFL team’s sporting department had been assessed.
Dr McLean said they’d been able to identify some “really good modifications post-COVID” for the Saints.
Part of their work was based on maximising cohesion within an organisation, and helping prevent “siloing” or isolation of different departments.
The Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems was established in 2013, and was officially recognised as a Tier 2 research centre by USC in 2015.
One of the centre’s main focuses was on translating research findings into practice, to ensure the research had impact and benefit in the real world.