Rob Auld, AFL Executive General Manager for Game Development, Damian Gill, Head of AFL Tasmania and Kathryn McCann, Tasmania Football Club Board member, with young local footballers at Blundstone Arena. Picture: Linda Higginson

A REVAMPED talent pathway for boys and girls in Tasmania has been described as the first step in setting up the island state for success in the AFL.

Tasmania was granted the league's 19th licence in May for a slated 2028 start, with the AFL pledging a $360 million investment in the franchise. 

The AFL on Tuesday announced that from next year $500,000 of that money would be spent annually on developing home-grown talent via a new pathway model. 

The AFL plans to appoint a state talent manager, a dedicated skill acquisition coach, and regional development coaches in the south, north and north-west. 

There will be an initial focus on establishing expanded talent development programs for 12-to-15 year old boys and girls.

"It is the first step in bringing to life the investment that was announced in May," AFL manager of game development Rob Auld said.

"We know there is a rich history of Tasmanian players who have made it to the elite level, and it is important we strengthen that … into the future."


The AFL has faced increasing competition at grassroots level from basketball following the emergence of the Tasmania JackJumpers two years ago.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon said the goal was for 12-to-15 year olds to be part of the club's first intake when it joins the League. 

"Part of a Tasmanian club being successful in both competitions is needing Tasmanian talent to be a cornerstone of that success," he said.

The program intends to complement existing local community clubs and associations.

Community consultation around the side's name, colour and guernsey will begin "very shortly". 

A major hurdle remains the construction of a 23,000-seat stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart - a condition for the AFL granting Tasmania a licence, and part of the its contract with the state government. 

James Leake celebrates kicking a goal during the Coates Talent League match between Tasmania Devils and Gippsland Power at Highgate Reserve on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The project, which has attracted some political and community opposition, will be assessed by the state's independent planning commission. 

The project must then be passed by both houses of parliament to receive final approval. 

Auld said the AFL remained committed to Tasmania's involvement in the AFL and AFLW, and said processes would play out over time.

Tasmania Football Club board member Kathryn McCann said she was confident planning and construction time frames for the stadium could be met.

"We're working towards meeting the time frames. There is no reason at this point in time we should think otherwise," she said.

The state government faces financial hits if the stadium isn't half completed by October 2027, or ready by the club's second season.