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Sunday, May 26 2019 @ 05:18 am ACST

CEO Gillon McLachlan in Tasmania


Following recent media coverage of the state of footy in Tasmania, and statements about the subject by a number of high profile Tasmanians and other passionate football identities, AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan today visited Hobart where he met with the Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires.

The following statements were made by McLachlan following the meeting.


Thank you for the opportunity to visit today.

There is extraordinary passion for football in Tasmania.


It is a vital part of the community across the whole state.


It is also clear there are some challenges ahead of us.


One of the biggest challenges has been at community level where we need to grow junior and youth participation to ensure a pipeline into senior teams and clubs.


In response to this, over the last 18 months the AFL increased funding by nearly 30 per cent.


This investment went to more football development managers, coaching, umpiring and school coordinators.


Significant growth has already been delivered in baseline participation, including;


Junior participation – Auskick +26%, schools up +112%


Community football – umpires +7%, accredited coaches +30%


Female football – participation / teams +30%


Today I want to talk to the other challenges.


There are challenges to the talent pathway and there are challenges in the Tasmanian State League (TSL).


With our talent pathway, the junior talent player levies are too expensive, there is a fragmented under-12 to under-15 pathway, and there are not enough games or exposure for the under-18 team post the academy games.


In the TSL, challenges include financial sustainability, a lack of relevance to AFL recruiters and the geographical demands of playing in a state league with up to four hours of travel each way.


Over the past weeks I have had many proposed solutions presented to these above issues, including:


• Increased funding for the TSL

• Potentially splitting the TSL into two conferences,

• Possibly introducing a VFL or NEAFL team,

• An overhaul of the talent pathway from under-12 to under-15

• Investigating having a stand-alone Tasmanian team in the TAC Cup.


To remove a barrier for boys and girls progressing their football development, I have committed today to subsidise the levies of all Tasmanian junior players selected in the AFL Tasmania talent programs, with an immediate injection of $200,000 for this year.


In order to work through the broader challenges and potential solutions I will chair a steering committee that is dedicated to evaluating progress of Tasmanian specific recommendations from Future Directions of Australian Football project.


Members of that steering committee include:


o AFL Tasmania CEO Trish Squires

o Carlton Coach Brendon Bolton

o Former St Kilda captain Nick Reiwoldt

o AFL Head of Game Development Rob Auld

o AFL state league manager Simon Laughton

o Access to our AFL Strategy team to assist in facilitation, design and outputs

o We will also consult with the state government and the Premier’s office.

The project will include key recommendations on:

- State League sustainability and options to improve the talent pathway;

- Investments and structures required to support, strengthen and grow football in 2018 and beyond;

- The future governance and funding of AFL Tasmania;

- Funding of these options will be part of the steering committee mandate.


Baseline participation growth remains a critical focus and will require a sustained focus for next three to five years – this will be the ongoing work of AFL Tasmania game development.


We will have meetings in the coming weeks, and look forward to being back inTasmania on April 14 to provide further announcements on the talent pathways.


The committee also have a deadline of June 30 to provide a recommendation for 2019 TSL season.


Our vision for Tasmanian football is clear:


We want


• Tasmanian talent competing at every level of the game.

• More kids – girls and boys - playing our game.

• A robust, sustainable community football that Tasmanians can support in their towns and regions – however that is structured.


Today is a strong start, in order for footy to prosper in one of our founding footy states, we need the help from the Tasmania football community to help create the solutions.


We won’t let Tasmanian football go without, but the solutions are not easy, and it will take time. 


I, along with Trish, will ensure the right structure, resources and investment will be provided to ensure all Tasmanian’s; men, women, boys and girls, have every opportunity to play footy.


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