WHOLE NEW BOARD GAME

RE­VEALED: One voice to push Tassie’s AFL dream

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - BRETT STUBBS Sports Editor

THE Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment is tak­ing the lead in es­tab­lish­ing a state team in the AFL with the cre­ation of the Foot­ball Tas­ma­nia Board. Sports Min­is­ter Jacquie Petrusma said the new Board would have two key pri­or­i­ties: to grow par­tic­i­pa­tion in foot­ball across all leagues at all lev­els; and to forge a path to­wards gain­ing an AFL li­cence and our own Tas­ma­nian team.

THE Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment will push hard for the state’s in­clu­sion into the AFL with the cre­ation of the Foot­ball Tas­ma­nia Board, the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian can re­veal.

AFL chief ex­ec­u­tive Gil­lon McLach­lan floated the idea with club CEOs on Thurs­day of the pos­si­bil­ity of a Tas­ma­nian stand-alone team and the Gov­ern­ment hopes to build on this mo­men­tum with the an­nounce­ment of a board.

Sports Min­is­ter Jacquie Petrusma said the board had been some time in the plan­ning. “The Gov­ern­ment has been work­ing closely with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Tas­ma­nian foot­ball com­mu­nity for some time to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a new gov­er­nance body that will pro­vide one voice for foot­ball in Tas­ma­nia, the Foot­ball Tas­ma­nia Board,” Ms Petrusma said.

“The board will have two key pri­or­i­ties: to grow par­tic­i­pa­tion in foot­ball statewide across all leagues at all lev­els; and to forge a path to­wards gain­ing a li­cence and our own Tas­ma­nian team.

“The AFL have been kept in­formed of the work to date and we will have more to say on the Foot­ball Tas­ma­nia Board in due course and our plans to grow par­tic­i­pa­tion and achieve an AFL li­cence.”

An AFL club in­sider told the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian that aside from a cou­ple of clubs with “vested in­ter­ests” in the state, the pos­si­bil­ity of a Tas­ma­nian stand-alone team was warmly wel­comed by the vast ma­jor­ity of the 18 clubs.

AFL Tas­ma­nia CEO Tr­isha Squires said she had not been made aware of Mr McLach­lan’s dis­cus­sions with the clubs prior, or post, Thurs­day night, but said any talk was only a good thing.

“Peo­ple talk­ing about Tassie foot­ball is pos­i­tive be­cause the more peo­ple who talk about it, whether it’s Gill or the club CEOs or any­one in Tas­ma­nia, it just keeps us on the con­ver­sa­tion, which is a real pos­i­tive for me,” Ms Squires said.

The cre­ation of the board also comes in the wake of the AFL’s steer­ing com­mit­tee probe into the health of Tas­ma­nian foot­ball ear­lier this year, that did not ad­dress the state’s alarm­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion drop-off or the push for a Tas­ma­nian AFL team.

In July, the Mer­cury re­vealed that while male par­tic­i­pa­tion in other tra­di­tional foot­ball states has grown 5-20 per cent be­tween 2006 to 2017, ac­cord­ing to AFL Tas­ma­nia’s own Ju­nior/Youth Foot­ball Re­view the state’s male par­tic­i­pa­tion has fallen 14.7 per cent over the same time.

The most alarm­ing stat was a de­cline of 22 per cent in the male youth cat­e­gory — ages 13 to 18 and the key con­duit be­tween ju­nior and senior foot­ball.

It is be­lieved the board’s struc­ture will in­clude a rep­re­sen­ta­tive elected from the seven TSL clubs, a del­e­gate rep­re­sent­ing the com­bined three re­gional leagues (the SFL, NTFA and NWFL) and an AFL Tas­ma­nian rep­re­sen­ta­tive, as well as other board mem­bers. The Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment has deals with North Mel­bourne and Hawthorn to play eight games a year in the state un­til the end of the 2021 sea­son.

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