Making Their Mark Review-The Trials and Tribulations of an AFL Footballer
The 2020 AFL season was unprecedented. The introduction of Hubs, the separation of families, and the stop and start nature of the season due to the Coronavirus. Making Their Mark does an excellent job of demonstrating the hardships of an AFL footballer in this new 6 part Amazon Original series.
From the opening episode, we are brought into the camps of six different clubs. All of which have different ideas of success for season 2020. The Adelaide Crows, The Gold Coast Suns, The Carlton Blues, The GWS Giants, The West Coast Eagles, and the Richmond Tigers. As a viewer and regular spectator of AFL, I quite enjoyed seeing each team be upfront and honest about their goals and objectives. Highlighting the difference between premiership hopefuls like the Richmond Tigers, and struggling teams like the Adelaide Crows created a great contrast with differing but still significant stakes.
Despite all the intrigue of player negotiations and field strategies, the big story of the 2020 season was COVID-19. It’s the question that was on every player’s mind. the opening episode demonstrates each team’s confusion and lack of knowledge about the ongoing situation built a conflict on whether the 2020 season should even go ahead. It is this ongoing situation that is the central point of this series. As it goes on players, coaches and staff begin to realise, they will have to leave their home states for the season to even be a possibility, with no certainty that the season will even continue yet alone be completed.
Making Their Mark spends a lot of time with coaches and board staff. Particularly with Coach Damien Hardwick and Richmond CEO Brendon Gale. These scenes spend with the corporate side of the AFL demonstrates perfectly that the AFL isn’t just a competition, it is also a business. The focus of trying to keep a business afloat during an unprecedented financial struggle is something that this series provides in detail. The unprecedented access to these business decisions through the eyes of Brendon Gale and Damien Hardwick is heartbreaking to watch. It is saddening to see people loose their jobs and see volunteers who love their club forced to leave.
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A big issue in sport in Australia is that of Racism. It is also an issue that the series refuses to take lightly. West Coast superstar Nick Natanui and Carlton’s small forward Eddie Betts are both Fijian and Aboriginal respectfully. Throughout episodes three and four we are shown just how much damage words and gestures can make. A specific example in episode three involving Eddie Betts and the despicably common use of monkey-related insult proved made me feel embarrassed to be a part of a fan base. The series demonstrates the important message of change that needs to be made, alongside a perspective hope from Eddie Betts that the future of the sport can be inclusive and welcoming. These episodes remind us just how well the AFL responds to racism but also asks the question why is it a part of the sport at all?
Ultimately the final episode comes down to the premiership. The prospect that one team will win. Despite all the twists and turns that 2020 has thrown at each team. Each club’s coach has a moment where they explain just how their teams faired during the season. Ultimately leading up to the final game of the season. It is a unique look back as to the 2020 season with hindsight for each individual club adding context to just how they fared.
Making their mark is a special series that any AFL fan should go out their way to watch. Each episode brings a new hurdle each club needs to face. The series displays just how difficult 2020 was to not only the general population. The series is unique and unlike any other sporting documentary series, I have seen. It was a fantastic way to hype up fans for the upcoming season and will be remembered fondly for providing a peek behind the curtain during the horrendous 2020 season.