IC: Neil Richardson (the Examiner)

Building a strong foundation for the revitalised Tasmanian talent pathway is the key priority for AFL Tasmania Football Manager Craig Notman. 

Starting the role in late October after a four-year stint as Talent Manager at TAC Cup program Oakleigh Chargers, Notman will now oversee a revitalised talent pathway in the state that encapsulates under-12s right through to the brand new Tasmania Devils TAC Cup team.

Although Tasmanians being drafted to the AFL is the ultimate goal, Notman is taking a more holistic approach to the pathway.

“You have got to judge the draft process on a year by year basis. You will have good years and bad years,” Notman said.

“From my previous experience if you can build a solid foundation where the kids are exposed to the talent program with a consistent approach, you are effectively working with them for a five-six year period and you can get some really good outcomes when you reach their draft age.”

Notman, who had previously worked for AFL Tasmania between 2002-2004 as a Regional Development Manager before working with the Melbourne Football Club as a Football Operations Manager, insists that this shake-up to the talent pathway will not only benefit players in the pursuit of being drafted, but also the broader Tasmanian football community.

“What you are also getting [through this new pathway] are good outcomes for footy at the local level.

“The addition of the VFL team in 2021 is also an exciting prospect and gives a further pathway opportunity for young guys coming through. First and foremost it helps us keep talented players in the state and overall it helps the level of footy and talent in the footy pathway.

“It will allow Tasmania a really unique position in terms of a continued pathway for players coming through junior ranks into the under-18s and beyond.”

Notman’s role settles in nicely with talent managers Mathew Armstrong (south), Darren Trevena (north) and Jamie Hayward (north-west) as well as TAC Cup coach Adrian Fletcher, a role Notman helped appoint.

“Adrian has a wealth of experience at AFL level and has been heavily involved in the talent pathway in Queensland,” Notman said.

“The things he has learned interstate that have been really successful will be imperative for us. As a Tasmanian coming back into the fold, it will be a big positive for Tasmanian football.”

“We have some really good resources now in each of the three regions. We are really well resourced with talent managers in the north-west, north and south, which is really important so they can immerse in the footy community and engage with the wider footy community.

“If we can form some great linkages or build on those existing linkages, in a talent sense we can have better outcomes from that point of view as we develop players and the next wave of coaches and footy people.”