Earlier this year, AFL Tasmania embarked on its Football Futures Project to establish a long-term vision for football across the state.
Over the past six months, with the support of external consultant Colgan Bauer, the project has involved stakeholders from across Tasmanian football providing input into the structure that will best serve local and community football well into the future.
AFL Tasmania’s plan from the start was to keep the project separate to the ongoing work around the AFL license submission, to set up community football for success irrespective of what transpires with the push for a team for Tasmania. What wasn’t anticipated at the time was that Tasmania would have clarity on when a decision would be made on whether an AFL license would be granted, expected at some stage in the back half of 2022 when the AFL finalises its club funding arrangements.
It’s become clear that it is in the best interests of the game to align both pieces of work and for AFL Tasmania to work more closely with the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian AFL License Taskforce, an approach which is endorsed by the Government and the Taskforce.
There is a great opportunity to bring together all of football and the sport will be better placed to understand the best path forward for the game at all levels, at the end of the AFL process.
Key updates regarding local and community football:
- Tasmanian State League (TSL): AFL Tasmania is committed to the TSL continuing for the duration of the current license agreements, which run through to the end of the 2023 season. The future of the TSL beyond 2023 will be determined once the AFL license outcome is known.
- Talent pathways and facilities working group: Representatives of the Taskforce and AFL Tasmania will form a working group on facilities and talent pathways as part of the broader AFL license work. This will involve AFL Tasmania working closely with four-time Hawthorn Football Club premiership coach and Taskforce advisor Alastair Clarkson on the pathways model, including conducting a state-wide ‘roadshow’ with stakeholders in partnership with AFL Tasmania representatives.
- AFL Tasmania, with the support of the Tasmanian Government, will roll out a community football support package for 2022, to target three key areas of need:
- Volunteers: Local club volunteers need greater support. There will be the establishment of a brand-new club support program for 2022 that will see a dedicated club support resource in each region (North, South, North-West) to assist club volunteers, as well as drive volunteer recruitment and retention initiatives.
- Coaches: Coaches need greater support and education. A coaching support network will be established in each region, to provide emerging coaches with support, mentoring and guidance in providing high quality coaching environments, overseen by new AFL Tasmania Coach Education Manager, Jay Schulz.
- Umpires: Greater umpire recruitment and development support is required state-wide. The deployment of a casual workforce to deliver increased recruitment initiatives in each region, greater coaching support, and resources, including targeted mentoring and professional development for state and regional umpire coaches.
All stakeholders across Tasmanian football should be aware that the extensive consultation and work that has taken place over the past six months has enabled AFL Tasmania to make significant progress on developing the best possible models needed for community and local football to thrive long into the future. It will also help to support the work of the Taskforce on player pathways, with further consultation and recommendations on the future of the local game to be made following the completion of the license process.
By having the Tasmanian Government and AFL License Taskforce working closely with AFL Tasmania on the next phase of this important work, it ensures complete alignment on what is best for the game from the AFL level right through to grassroots football.
Head of AFL Tasmania, Damian Gill, said: “It is great to have genuine buy-in for the project and to have so many Tasmanians invested in playing their part in setting up Tassie footy for success. With such a significant number of stakeholders from all levels of the game providing input, it shows how much Tasmanians care about setting a vision and purpose for local football.
“It has become clear in recent times, through discussions with a range of stakeholders and due to the AFL continuing to work its way through the Carter Report, that we have an opportunity to bring the project together with the Taskforce to develop a holistic plan for the game.
“We are excited to be working with the Taskforce and Alastair Clarkson, one of the most respected figures in the game, on what’s best for Tasmanian football.
“The work conducted so far sets us up really well for the next 12 months and gives us a strong foundation to work from.
“In the meantime, it’s exciting to launch the 2022 support package and I would like to extend my appreciation to the Tasmanian Government for their ongoing and significant support of the game.”