As Tasmania rallies behind the United We Stand campaign, three Northern football identities have had their say on the state's latest push for an AFL team.
Outspoken North Launceston president Thane Brady, Launceston boss Mitch Thorp and experienced coach Adam Sanders believe a Tasmanian team is achievable provided the right foundations are in place.
TIME TO DECIDE:
'THIRST IS THERE'
Even after decades of being pushed back, Tasmanians still harbour a desire to be represented in the country's premier football competition.
Despite UTAS Stadium's first ever sub-five-figure crowd last season and four in Hobart over the past three years, the state has largely drawn consistent crowds to as many as eight roster games a year - often hosting clubs with smaller supporter bases.
Thorp, one of a select group of Apple Islanders to have played TSL, VFL, representative and AFL football, says the desire for a Tasmanian AFL team is genuine.
"I think there's definitely a thirst for it - we're a state that loves sport and loves football," the 2013 TSL premiership coach said.
"As long as we get the financial modelling right - the right corporate sponsors and things like that that come with an elite team - that's the important part.
"There's a lot of Tasmanians on the mainland that I daresay would jump ship pretty quick if there was a Tasmanian side in the AFL, and I think there could well be an eastern seaboard side no longer in the competition over the next five or six years.
"That might make it a little bit easier to transition a side down here."
NOW, NOT LATER
The Midland Highway upgrade model of a 10-year plan is too slow for an AFL team, according to Sanders.
The 45-year-old, who has been involved with Tasmanian football through two incarnations of the NTFA, the State League and played for the Tassie Devils, says five years is the longest the state should have to wait for an AFL outfit.
"I just think if the AFL thinks Tassie is going to wait 10 years to get an AFL team I reckon they're dreaming - it's too long," Sanders said.
"I think we were sold a bit short saying we'll put in a VFL team - we've already been down that track and people want an AFL team not a VFL team.
"That's where aspiration comes in - you can see your heroes and they're wearing a Tassie jumper and it's real, you can touch it, it's within reach."
The withdrawal of Burnie and Devonport left the TSL on shaky ground ahead of the 2018 season, and the league remains without North-West representation.
But a flourishing State League appears a vital stepping stone for the next generation of Tasmanian AFL prospects.
"Having been part of the VFL the first time around and not having a state league underneath it, it made it quite challenging for the boys trying to play," Thorp said.
"A state league underpinning our VFL side is really important to create depth and a competition where the guys on the edge of playing VFL footy still have a standard high enough that they can improve throughout the season.
"I'm hearing that's where it's headed which is really positive because it encourages young men and women to come up from the community clubs and they can jump into State League, VFL, and then AFL."
While a team featuring solely Tasmanian players is unrealistic, the continued production of home-grown AFL talent is undoubtedly important to building interest and support for the sport.
Tasmania has endured a handful of lean draft years in the past decade, and despite enjoying a participation explosion in the women's game, the state has endured a diminishing number of men's teams.
The 14 to 18-year-old age group is reportedly suffering considerable drop-out rates, while soccer and basketball are enjoying steadily-growing player bases.
Brady says facility shortages exacerbated by the growth of women's football, travel commitments and a "lack of direction" in junior competitions are all contributing to the drop-off in teen playing numbers.
"The stats are clear and shocking. We have more senior teams than juniors to feed them," Brady said.
"Parents face the issue of one child playing say at Longford in a certain age group, with another at Scottsdale playing in another age group.
"Many families now have a boy and girl playing and they rarely play at the same venue.
"It simply becomes too hard both in time commitment and financially for many families and feedback tells me this is a factor in the teenage dropout rates."
Brady believes a lack of meaningful exposure to football in the school setting is also impacting the state's player numbers.
"School football is a shambles," Brady said.
"Two decades ago youth had opportunities to enjoy playing and umpiring footy at school level, and many of these youth continued to participate in the sport after leaving school.
"The current situation is many youth only experience the "introduction to AFL", which is effectively more designed to lure youth towards supporting an AFL team than actually participating in the game."
Greater co-ordination between schools and football clubs could be an effective, albeit difficult to establish, solution.
"Footy clubs need to find ways to connect with the next generation of players, umpires, coaches and administrators," Brady said.
"Our recommendation is to create opportunities for any footy club to connect with a school or schools to manage and deliver a meaningful footy program."