THERE ARE few roles within the sporting industry that are as sought after as the role of player manager. It is a role that is demanding and requires immense dedication and passion.
Alex Saundry, founder of More Than Management, is one of the leading figures in women’s sport. Alex has unique perspective as both a former player and manager, having played for two years with the GWS Giants in the inaugural AFL Women’s season.
Students at the Carlton College of Sport had the opportunity to hear from Alex and ask questions about what it takes to be a player manager.
How did you get into player management?
“I played footy myself from U12’s onwards and was lucky enough to represent Victoria. I gave up playing footy around 2011 and then was fortunate enough to do some coaching with the U15 and U16 Calder Cannons and the U18 VIC Metro and VIC Country youth girls programs. From there I built a great network around me. I studied Sport Management at Deakin University and managed the rowing program at Loreto Toorak.”
“In my fourth year of study at Deakin I got an internship with Paul Connors (Connors Sports Management) which I was very fortunate to get. From there I went from an internship into a part-time, then full-time position for four and a half years.”
“During those four and a half years I was lucky enough to play for two years for the GWS Giants in their inaugural AFL Women’s season and started to build an AFLW List at Connor Sports.
“In 2018 I went out on my own with a business called More Than Management with a desire to make a bigger impact in the female sporting landscape. As the name suggests, it’s about being more than just a manager and help utilise and enhance people’s skillset both on and off the field.
What is player management?
“It encompasses so much. The basics are the player contract and negotiation side of it, involving their sporting profession contracts and their commercial and endorsement contracts as well. It’s about negotiating and finding different opportunities for the individual to expand their brand and portfolio outside of the respective club they are at.”
“The most important thing about sports agencies is having a great relationship with your client and understanding what drives them to be better. Understanding that will help when it comes to negotiations and big decision making as you’re able to advise them to make the right decisions for them.”
How do you enlist players to get on your books?
“One of my drivers is to understand the individual, so I’ll do my research to dig into how the individual operates under adversity. I’ll speak to their coaches and past coaches and different people who know the athlete. The last thing you want to do is manage an athlete who doesn’t align with your values and particularly that doesn’t align with what your skill set can provide them.
“I’m a big believer that I’m not going to be the perfect fit for everyone and I’m OK with that. I make sure that I do my due diligence with the girls that I do want to manage to make sure that I’m the right fit for them and that they’re the right fit for me and my business.”
What skills do you need to work in player management?
“You’ve got to have a pretty friendly nature. My biggest driver is wanting to make help to make other people better which I think is the most important part about the job. Being loyal and respectful is also key.”
“You should have a great knowledge of the industry; understanding contracts, property, shares and being able to understand the market value of an athlete is crucial. The ability to form and build a relationship and really care about an athlete is so important. I want to make my business known for that personal style of management and making sure that the athlete feels really valued.”