A CRISIS meeting has been called in a bid to save country football in Tasmania.
The North Eastern Football Union has made an urgent appeal for community support but believes its problems are symptomatic of those facing the sport throughout regional Australia.
Union president Leon Quilliam said the decline of industry in the North-East could spell an end to half a century of footy tradition.
``Because of what's happened here and the industry that has disappeared, every club is finding it difficult to survive and so is the NEFU,'' he said.
``We are very fearful that the union will fold if people do not come along and support it, and the feedback that I get is if the union does not exist the community will gradually die.
``Every small town that has lost its football club, it's only a matter of time before they lose their community as well.
``We will die a slow death if we don't get more support from the community, and it might not be that slow.''
The NEFU has called a meeting at Kendalls Hotel in Scottsdale to discuss pressing issues including player numbers, finances and even the possibility of amalgamating with the NTFA.
Bass Liberal MHA Peter Gutwein and AFL Tasmania's community football manager Nick Probert are among those expected at the meeting on Friday, July 18.
Quilliam said the union had seen sides like Derby, Gladstone-Pioneer and more recently Ringarooma drop out, while Lilydale switched to the NTFA last season, Branxholm nearly ceased to exist and Winnaleah, Bridport and Scottsdale are all finding it tough to field teams.
Last year the NEFU secretary wrote 16 clearance forms in one month for players moving to the mainland for work reasons.
``If we had industry here, those players would have stayed, their communities would have been more viable and so would our union.
``We have decided to hold a forum to ask if they want to continue. We need people to put their hands up to help clubs out and to help the union survive.
``I called this a crisis meeting because that's what it is. All country football is in crisis and not only in Tasmania but the mainland as well. This is not just about the North-East but Australia-wide and we need to do something about it soon.''
Anybody who would like to make a submission to the meeting can call 0409 542172 or firstname.lastname@example.org