Nick Watson, Mikayla Williamson, Harley Reid and Amy Gaylor launch the Coates Talent League. Picture: AFL Photos

Australia’s premier underage football pathway competition for boys and girls in the eastern states has a new naming rights partner and a new name, with Australia's leading equipment hire and solutions provider Coates coming on board to support the Coates Talent League from 2023.

Formerly the NAB League, the Coates Talent League features 12 boys and girls programs from Victoria and one from Tasmania for the full season, while academy programs from New South Wales (GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans), Queensland (Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions) and Northern Territory (NT State Academy) will continue to compete for part of the season.

The 2023 Coates Talent League season commences on March 18 for the girls, a later start than this year when the girls season ran from January-April to closely align to NAB AFLW season six, while the boys will start on March 25.

The 2023 Coates Talent League Grand Finals for girls and boys will be played on the same weekend of September 23/24. Full season fixtures will be released soon and will include competition recess periods to allow boys and girls to play community, school and representative football throughout the season.

In 2022, 37 of the 59 players picked in the NAB AFL Draft were selected directly from what is now the Coates Talent League Boys, while of the 83 players selected in the latest NAB AFLW Draft, 41 were directly from Coates Talent League Girls programs, showing how important the competition continues to be in the pathway that produces the future stars of the elite game.

NAB has been a proud partner of the AFL since 2002 and will continue to be a major supporter of the game as premier partner of the NAB AFLW competition and NAB AFL Auskick.

The Coates Talent League started in 1992 as the Victorian State Football League (VSFL) before becoming the TAC Cup from 1993-2018. The girls competition started in 2017. Over the years the competition has produced more AFL and AFLW players than any other league and is also an important development program for emerging coaches, umpires, administrators and support staff.

Coates Talent League teams comprise mostly players from the under 18 age group with a selection of under 19 players also listed. ‘Futures’ matches, which take place throughout the year between Coates Talent League programs in Victoria, involve under 16 and under 17 players.

In a boost for the regional pathway programs in Victoria and Tasmania, each program now has a dedicated full-time Coates Talent League Girls coach and a dedicated full-time Coates Talent League Boys coach in 2023. The AFL has also invested in increased youth wellbeing programming and resources for all regions, as well as additional administrative, high performance and medical resources.

Additional resources will also benefit community football, with Coates Talent League coaches to work closely with AFL Victoria on providing support for community clubs and coaches. This aims to strengthen the connection between the talent pathways system and local clubs while also providing development opportunities for coaches at community level.

AFL Head of Talent Pathways, Grant Williams, said: “For three decades, what is now the Coates Talent League has been an integral part of the Australian football pathway system and has produced more than 1500 AFL and more than 130 AFLW players.

“To have Coates on board as major partner helps to ensure the ongoing success of the competition and programs within it, while players, coaches, umpires and administrators who are part of the league will continue to receive the support their development requires in high-performance environments.

“The rich history of the Coates Talent League will continue for a 32nd year in 2023 and provide a platform for so many future stars of the AFL and AFLW to showcase their skills and develop into the best they can be, whether that’s at the elite level, state league or community football.

“On behalf of the programs and everyone involved, we thank Coates for their support and look forward to working with them on this partnership.”

AFL Executive General Manager Commercial, Kylie Rogers, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Coates, a great Australian company and the country’s leading equipment hire and solutions provider, operating across a range of markets including engineering, mining and resources, infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and major events.

“Like our game, Coates has a long, proud history in Australia. Coates is also renowned as a supporter of Australian industry and will now play a key role in supporting some of the country’s best emerging football talent – girls and boys - through the Coates Talent League.

“Having Coates on board helps to ensure the future success of the competition and the many athletes who come through Coates Talent League programs.”

Coates CEO, Murray Vitlich, said: “The Coates Talent League is the foundation of Australian Rules Football. It continues to grow the game and gives young athletes every opportunity to achieve their football dreams and play at the elite level.

“Fostering talent is something we believe in at Coates, and we look forward to supporting tomorrow’s stars achieve success on and off the field.”

Coates Talent League digital channels have been transitioned to the handle @TalentLeague.

The official Coates Talent League app, powered by Telstra, will be relaunched soon.