Most popular team sport in Tasmania
While Tasmania continues the push for its own AFL Team, another code is proving the quiet achiever.
Soccer, or 'The World Game' as many know it, is the most popular team sport in the state, with 7.4 percent of the population playing - according to new data from Sport Australia.
The next closest were Aussie Rules and Basketball at 4.2 and 4.1 percent respectively.
President of Football Tasmania Bob Gordon has welcomed the figures and said it was particularly pleasing to see the popularity of the sport with younger Tasmanians.
“Sport Australia estimates that nearly 38,000 Tasmanians played football between October 2015 and June 2019, while over the same time just over 21,000 Tasmanians played Aussie Rules."
“What’s more impressive is that football is the preferred team sport of over 20 per cent of juniors in the State. That’s more than double the Aussie Rules participation rate for Tasmanians aged under 18. Not only does that make football the most popular team sport with juniors, it makes it the second most popular sport overall, behind only swimming," he said.
But Mr Gordon says a lack of facilities is proving a hindrance, as younger players move up to playing on full-length fields, of which there aren't as many.
"The participation rate is much higher per head of population in the south, the north has really good retention rates from juniors to youth teams, and the north-west coast has about the same challenges the south has going from juniors to youth."
And while the state's bid for its own AFL team has dominated headlines of late, Mr Gordon argues we should be aiming for our own A-league team - an opportunity which will arise in 2 years time when the FFA considers expansion again.
"There's a group of financial backers who are quite happy to fund it. We're not looking for the huge amounts of public subsidies that other sports seem to expect. We'd just like some support from the government to help us make it happen and I think the discussions we've had with Minister Rockcliff about that have been very constructive."
Western United joined the A-league this season, and next year will see the introduction of Macarthur FC.