Retired Western Bulldogs player Aiden O’Driscoll has recently joined the Ladder team, interning with fellow AFL alumni and Ladder AFL Industry Engagement Coordinator, Sam Philp. 

Selected in the 2023 national draft for the Western Bulldogs, Aiden unfortunately sustained a head injury during preseason training. Aiden recently shared his story here: Retired Western Bulldogs teenager Aiden O’Driscoll opens up on crushing end to AFL career | 7NEWS

While recovering, Aiden has remained committed to his football journey and is now dedicating some of this time interning with Ladder, collaborating with Sam Philp in the player engagement space.

Aiden brings a unique perspective and valuable experience to Ladder. His firsthand experience of overcoming challenges, coupled with his unwavering commitment to recovery and the sport, makes him an incredible addition to the Ladder team and mentor to Ladder program participants.

We are proud to be able to provide professional development, work experience and employment opportunities for current, retired and former players with Ladder, the official charity of the AFL Players’ Association. We are thrilled to have Aiden and are delighted to keep him connected to the football community and provide meaningful opportunities as he recovers.

We recently sat down with Aiden on his first day to discuss his initial insights on his internship at Ladder.

How did you first find out about Ladder?  

When I had to retire from playing AFL, my Player Development Manager at the Western Bulldogs got in touch with Sam, knowing I was interested in working opportunities. I met Sam for coffee near the AFL Players' Association, where he told me about Ladder and its mission. He thought it would be a great fit for me, and with his help, I got set up with an internship in player engagement.

Why did you want to get involved and support Ladder?  

I wanted to get involved because Ladder is a great cause that helps young people in need. This internship allows me to give back to the community and feel like I’m making a meaningful difference, whilst allowing me to stay connected to the footy community which is a huge part of my life. I'm very grateful for everything I’ve had and it’s so important to me to recognise how lucky I am and in turn help those in need.

What is your new role at Ladder and what will you be doing?  

I'm starting an internship at Ladder, working alongside Sam on player engagement. I'll be collaborating with the clubs, players and programs to make meaningful connections across the board to support Ladders player engagement side of operations.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?  

I'm most looking forward to creating meaningful connections between players and the young people who are a part of Ladder.

Why do you think it's important for AFL and AFLW players to get involved with Ladder?  

Its important players are aware and get involved with Ladder because it helps players understand the impact of the organisation and how their involvement contributes to meaningful outcomes for Australia's youth. It makes what we do on the field more significant and fulfilling.