RAY ALLSOPP, the "father figure" of the nationally-successful Auskick program, has passed away at age 87.

Allsopp played 54 games for Richmond in the 1950s, as well as representing Victoria, but his greatest work was done off the field.

In the late 1980s Australian football was being challenged by other sports for the attention of the country's primary school-aged children.

That's when Allsopp developed Vickick, which would later become Auskick as it moved national.

AFL talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan described Allsopp as a fantastic man, "an unsung hero".

"He was the father-figure of Auskick," Sheehan told AFL.com.au.

"He was the creator, the inventor, and at a time when we needed someone to focus on skill development in those primary school years.

"He came up with the program.

"We had all this competition from other sports, and we wanted to win hearts and minds of primary school kids."

NAB Auskick Ambassadors Katie Brennan and Joel Selwood. Picture: Supplied

The program grew from 11,000 participants in 1988 to over 200,000 by the mid-1990s as the VFL – then AFL – took control of running it.

"He was a creative sports lover who loved his footy," Sheehan said.

"He was the man right behind what we now know as an institution."

Allsopp was given AFL Life Membership for administration in 2010.