It’s now or never for Tasmanian AFL team

Jeremy Rockliff,Premier

Nic Street,Minister for Sport and Recreation

If there is any hope of meaningful survival of the AFL code in Tasmania, the AFL must grant Tasmania the 19th licence.

Returning for a second time to discharge unwarranted and divisive comments about Tasmanians, Eddie McGuire has made it abundantly clear that he is not from or for Tasmania.

Because if he was, he would know that it is this sort of attitude that has seen the game decline in Tasmania.

Tasmanians have every right to experience what others states experience: a football team that is embedded in our schools and engages with our young people, a football team that visits grassroots sporting clubs, and a football team who can inspire the next generation of Tasmanian football players.

The roaring success of the JackJumpers proves how important this is not only to the Tasmanian community, but also to the AFL, which is already losing ground in a key football heritage state.

The JackJumpers success on the court and their engagement with communities across Tasmania has created a massive buzz across the State. In 2022 already, participation in the sport is up by 7.4 per cent with more and more young Tasmanians getting active on the court as a result. It has also shown that if we have our own team, on the big stage, Tasmanians will turn up, with packed stadiums a regular occurrence.

Tasmania has a very long list of home-grown talent that demonstrates, if given the opportunity, we would have no issues filling our own team with capable, skilled young players, and like the JackJumpers, the team would be a destination for interstate players ready for their next challenge.

Make no mistake, if Tasmania is not granted our own licence, the next Matthew Richardson or Jack Riewoldt will be shooting hoops instead of kicking goals.

We have been very clear that Tasmania does not want to rent a team. We want our own Tasmanian AFL and AFLW team, run and operated here in Tasmania, with our players living here and part of our community, a team wearing our own colours – a team that all Tasmanians can get behind.

Self-interested, conflicted commentators like Mr McGuire need to butt out and get out of the way and let the AFL get on with the job.

It’s now or never. Tasmania deserves our own team, the business case stacks up, and without it, the AFL will never be a truly national competition.

We look forward to a positive response from the AFL and the Presidents in August.

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