STJFL Participants sharing the AFL Talent investment media launch 14th November 2023.

Darcy Foale (North Hobart), Adele Bahr (Kingborough Tigers), Toby Budd (Lindisfarne), Mia Barwick (Claremont)

Photo: Linda Higginson

Talent pathways for young footballers in Tasmania will be among the country’s best as the AFL invests $500,000 a year into developing the state’s homegrown talent.

In its commitment to identify and nurture the next stars of the game from all regions of Tasmania, the ongoing funding will enhance and elevate the current talent pathway program by engaging more industry expertise, utilising new development coaches and ensuring more access to the best facilities.

With a key priority to attract the most talented athletes in the state, the program will aim to develop boys and girls across Tasmania’s three regions, enabling as many players as possible the chance to realise their dreams of being drafted to the AFL and AFLW competitions.
Talent academies and pathway programs from around Australia and the world were analysed as part of the new model’s creation process, ensuring the investment delivers a program in Tasmania that will be benchmarked against the best in the business.

The new model will see the appointment of a new State Talent Manager, a dedicated Skill Acquisition Coach and regional development coaches in all three regions.

The State Talent Manager will manage Tasmania’s entire talent pathway, with an initial focus on establishing expanded talent development programs for 12 to 15-year-old boys and girls.

The Skill Acquisition Coach will work state-wide to ensure best practice in skill development for Tasmania’s emerging talent, while the regional development coaches in each of the three regions will work hands on specifically with 12 to 15-year-old children – extending talent pathway opportunities for boys and girls in Tasmania from 12 right through to the AFL and AFLW.

The program’s intent is to also work collaboratively with the football community and complement existing local community clubs and associations.

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said this was an important investment for the game’s future.

“The AFL is committed to identifying and accelerating the development of local talent in Tassie – it’s vital for us and a key priority as we look ahead to Tasmania entering the competition,” Dillon said.

“Part of a Tasmanian club being successful in both competitions is needing Tasmanian talent to be a cornerstone of that success.

“There is a rich history of Tasmanian players who have made it to the elite level, and we want to strengthen this even further by ensuring there’s a clear, strong pathway for all young Tasmanian footballers to play our game, giving every boy and girl the opportunity to represent their region and state on the national stage.

“We’ve taken a look at programs across Australia and the world to make sure our investment creates a best-practice model, elevating the program with dedicated coaches across both boys’ and girls’ programs whilst embedding quality regional development programs for the most talented 12 and 15-year-olds.

“As we look towards the future of Australian football in Tassie, it’s exciting to think the 12 to 15-year-old kids who join this talent program now, will be Tasmania Football Club’s first intake when it joins the league, which will be a milestone moment for our game.”

Tasmanian Minister for Sport and Recreation, Nic Street said:

“The Tasmanian Liberal Government is a huge supporter of Australian Rules Football in this State, especially when it comes to getting more young people involved for the first time and ensuring they have a pathway to take playing to the highest level.

“I congratulate the AFL on their increased investment into Tasmania, especially into their talent pathway and academies.

“Finally, now that Tasmania has secured its own team in the AFL, we will be able to ensure that Tasmanian talent is nurtured more than ever as our kids aspire to run onto the field in Tasmanian colours.”

The Tasmania Football Club will be involved in the new talent pathway program and will support the AFL with key appointments. In addition, the AFL will also continue to work with North Melbourne Football Club and support its Next Generation Academy program.

The AFL announced in May that Tasmania had been granted the 19th licence to join the league and within its overall $360 million investment package, committed to investing $33 million to develop young male and female talent in Tasmania.