Increasing crowd numbers and stronger community relationships are among the highlights achieved during Scott Rigby's first year at the NTFA's helm.
Just days out from completing his first season as president, the 45-year-old Evandale 300-gamer discusses the association's challenges and opportunities heading into 2020.
The NTFA took control of the North's regional women's competition this year after two seasons under AFL Tasmania's banner.
Despite the late withdrawal of Rocherlea, the competition grew from six participating clubs to eight with George Town the only side not to register a win across 10 home and away matches.
Rigby said player demands for a longer season would likely be met next year.
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"At this stage it potentially looks like a longer season," the former Evandale primary and Kings Meadows high student said.
"What we've done with the women's roster - and we'll do something similar with the premier division - is we're engaging about the make-up of the comp.
"Overwhelmingly the feedback is the women want to play longer so we have a responsibility to enable that.
"We want to build in a long-term, sustainable competition and that's what we're doing."
The NTFAW will remain an eight-club competition next season but is expected to swell in the future.
Official figures and anecdotal evidence suggest crowds have grown in 2019, with the NTFA welcoming a combined 3500 through its gates across three finals in the first week of September.
Rigby said both the integration of women's teams and clubs' efforts to create a welcoming environment for spectators had contributed to the rise.
The association also ventured into new mediums with the NTFAW grand final live-streamed to more than 9000 devices.
"Our crowd support for the premier division is way up, division one is slightly up so a positive across the board really," Rigby said.
"Those crowd numbers - that's all back to the clubs, it's about creating that environment that people want to get back to the footy and have a bit of fun.
"There's no doubt injecting women's teams into this space has had a massive injection, and I think also the clubs are starting to engage their junior clubs a little bit more."
Rigby doesn't shy away from the fact that the pathway from junior to senior competition is in serious need of addressing.
Just nine of the NTFA's 55 teams compete at under-18 level, yet the age bracket provides more headaches than any other division.
Teams were forced to play 16-a-side on a number of occasions this year and in the past the competition has been known to see players double up in reserves.
However, the NTFA believes clubs are working towards a solution.
Rigby pointed to Bridgenorth's recent affiliation with Tamar Demons and George Town's efforts to re-engage its community as evidence clubs were working to smooth out crooked pathways.
Scottsdale - whose neighbours Branxholm, Winnaleah and Scottsdale Crows have all disappeared from the football map in recent years - will embark on a campaign this summer to reconnect with its school community while Deloraine remains one of the leaders in forming a 'one-club' mentality.
"There's lots of different reasons why things get a little bit disjointed and why participation drops off but I want to focus on the positives that are happening in that space," Rigby said.
"We've recognised that fact in the under-18s and we're going out with our clubs to re-engage at that level, re-engage their junior clubs and promote that positive environment so those young blokes coming out of the NTJFA want to play under-18s.
"But the senior clubs have a responsibility to get involved with the junior clubs and we've seen some great positives - you look at Deloraine for example and what they do in that junior space.
"I think going forward we will be working closer than ever [with the NTJFA] to re-engage the juniors in our senior competition space and straighten up a few pathways."
An overhaul aimed at addressing player shortages and junior pathways among other issues has been heavily adapted under Rigby's leadership.
Time-based requirements which at one stage looked set to send three premier division sides back to division one have been eased, while plans for a third-tier competition featuring one-team clubs have been scrapped altogether.
Rigby confirmed no clubs would be added or shuffled among divisions for the 2020 season, although some changes are expected at under-18 level.
"We've set in place a restructure process over the last 18 months and that comes back to a minimum standards document and strategic plans that each club has to work towards and it's not just talking about one year, we're talking about five to 10," he said.
"We're talking about long-term sustainability for these clubs because gone are the days where we go year-by-year.
"We've been on this journey together and hats off to the clubs because they've done a magnificent job."
Rigby said the third-tier division two competition was taken off the table early this year.
"Some hard decisions have to be made and you learn from previous experience.
"We have had expressions of interest from other clubs, but for the NTFA to continue to build that solid base the third tier was not going to help that.
"We explored the option but on looking at it and reviewing it, it was not going to be viable."
Repairing and building relationships - both internal and external - has been at the forefront of Rigby's mind during his first year in charge.
The NTFA has enjoyed a "fantastic" relationship with Windsor Park administrator West Tamar Council in recent seasons, although the ground is not locked in to host the association's grand finals long-term.
The return of NTFA grand finals to City of Launceston's UTAS Stadium is not out of the question, while Rigby is also seeking greater alignment with the NTJFA, the umpires' association and the North's two TSL clubs.
"Something the board has done [this year] is not just engage our clubs but engaged our community - the NTJFA, the NTFUA umpires, so building relationships with them, but also North Launceston and Launceston," he said.
"We're starting to break down a few of those old myths and barriers that were there before because we're all in the one area and we've got to work together."
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