Experienced Tasmanian football coach Adam Sanders says more resources are needed at a youth level to make the state's player pathway AFL-ready.
Tasmania's firmest push for its own AFL team coincides with one of its most barren draft decades in recent memory, with 2018 top-10 picks Tarryn Thomas and Chayce Jones breaking a virtual drought of home-grown draftees.
Sanders said while getting drafted to an AFL club was becoming increasingly difficult, more well-resourced junior talent programs could better prepare Tasmanians for the journey.
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"People compare it to 1986 when there were 130-140 picks - now there might only be 75 live picks," the ex-Tassie Mariners coach said.
"It's certainly much more competitive to be able to get drafted and there's obviously a lot more scrutiny over the girls and boys now that they have to be doing everything right to even get a look-in, so the pathway is really important.
"I think they [AFL Tasmania] are trying to do something about it, but they have to act quickly to get the pathway from a younger age right so kids get to the 16,17,18,19 age group and they're getting finished off, not trying to teach a lot of them from scratch."
Sanders, whose teenage sons Oliver and Ryley are both in the state's football system, said positive steps were being made, starting with the re-introduction of a team in the national under-18 competition.
The challenge, however, remains to provide more regular elite competition for talented footballers aged 16 and younger.
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"I've gone away with under-16 teams and most of the time they're just not prepared for what's coming at them," the three-time Launceston premiership coach said.
"A system that's been flawed for a while is the 8 to 14-year age group where they've been left to their own devices really and the talent pool's dried up a bit.
"If I had a heap of money I'd be putting a lot into that younger age group and getting really good coaches and teachers in that space."
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