Prospects for Tasmania’s female footballers look bright as both Hawthorn and North Melbourne Football Clubs have formally submitted Tasmania-focused applications for an AFL Women’s team in 2019.
Launceston Football Club’s women’s team coach Alex Gibbins said having an AFLW team in the state would see more female athletes pursue the sport through the State League to the national level.
“It would finish off a pathway for young female footballers at the moment,” Gibbins said, adding that it would “resonate with the locals” and increase support for the game.
“They’d see their AFL players and be playing with them or against them – it’s a lot more real.”
North Melbourne were granted a provisional AFLW licence in 2016 and based their submission for a full licence almost exclusively on the club’s Tasmanian links, with a target of half their team sourced from Tasmania.
“Tasmania has understandably been crying out for greater representation on the national stage and our proposal seeks to deliver this through a genuine joint venture approach,” North Melbourne chief executive Carl Dilena said.
“By focusing on participation and talent development at the grass roots level, integrating Tasmania into our AFLW licence submission and playing AFLW games in Tasmania, we hope to further inspire female participation, deepen the Tasmanian talent pool and improve the female talent pathways.”
AFL Tasmania’s Trish Squires said they were “very pleased” with their involvement in North Melbourne’s submission.
Hawthorn chief executive Tracey Gaudry said the Hawks pitch for a women’s team led on “the power of its vast and engaged audience” and opportunity to pre-list Tasmanian players, with “at least” one home game to be played at UTAS Stadium.
“Our ambition to establish an AFLW team is a genuine and authentic extension of our club,” she said.
Premier Will Hodgman called for a stand-alone AFLW team but said if North Melbourne or the Hawks were granted a licence, “we would talk with those clubs about securing the best possible outcomes for women's football in Tasmania”.
The AFL is expected to make a decision on the next two to four clubs to be granted AFLW licences by the end of July.