Burnie has withdrawn from the Tasmanian State League Women’s – leaving the North-West without a representative in either of the state’s top tier competitions.
The Dockers and Devonport created turmoil earlier this year by walking away from the men’s TSL, but it was confirmed on Monday that former powerhouse Burnie would also be turning its back on the TSLW.
It has been a sharp decline for the Dockers, with the club winning premierships in 2014 and 2016; and losing to Clarence in 2015.
Their success has seen Emma Humphries, Brittany Gibson, Ellyse Gamble and twins Chloe and Libby Haines join the AFLW.
The TSLW will increase to a six-team competition in 2019, with North Launceston and Lauderdale signing up.
Northern Bombers coach Dean Smith said he is keen to start pre-season on Thursday at Rocherlea Oval, from 5.30pm.
“We will be conducting squad selection training sessions over a five week period [and] at the conclusion, the final squad of 30 players will be selected to represent the Northern Bombers in in 2019,” Smith said.
“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to this opportunity from talented female footballers looking for a pathway in their area.
“It was important for female football pathways across the North and North-East for us to put a side in the TSLW.”
State League general manager Carl Saunder said it was important that females continued to be given a professional pathway across the state and labelled Monday’s announcement of two new teams a “landmark day”.
“To have both Lauderdale and North Launceston entering the competition next season moves us closer to our goal of having a [TSLW] competition that replicates the [TSL],” he said.
“[The talent pool for additional teams] is something we’ve monitored really closely and North Launceston has had a provisional licence for 12 months now, so it was always the plan to build steady progress.
“It’s certainly an ongoing challenge to make sure that every male and female [from the North-West] feels like they can aspire to play at the highest possible level.”
He said the arrival of the two Bombers would be followed by North Hobart in 2020 and that Burnie would likely join the NWFL women’s competition next year.
Saunder did not rule out a North-West representative team being given the opportunity to play against the state’s best towards the back-half of next season to put their names in the spotlight.
AFL Tasmania female talent manager Leigh Elder said work would continue on the North-West Coast to provide opportunities within the talent pathway.
“Having a strong [TSLW] will support the state’s best talent and provide further pathways for aspiring females who have dreams of playing for the Tasmania Devils in the TAC Cup women's competition from 2020 and ultimately the North Melbourne-Tasmanian Kangaroos at the AFLW elite level,” he said.