JackJumpers winning hearts in Tasmania

“But three years and four months later [NBL owner] Larry Kestelman announced Tasmania was getting an NBL license – so I missed my goal by four months.

“What we did was something the AFL has miserably failed to do in the past 20 years and that is going back to the grassroots.”

What has happened in Tasmania could be described as a sporting and business miracle as the Tasmania JackJumpers have gone from a 2-6 [win-loss] start to their inaugural season to facing the Kings who are part-owned by Andrew Bogut and have recent NBA players Jaylen Adams, Jarell Martin and Golden State Warriors NBA title winner Ian Clark on the roster.

On Friday, NBA superstars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson sent videos of support for the Kings and their former championship teammates Bogut and Clark but while the Kings were re-tweeting those videos, Tasmanians were covering the state in JackJumpers green.

“It feels like going to Geelong on AFL grand final week when the Cats are playing,” Bartlett said.

“There is JackJumpers green everywhere. Tasmania has traditionally been divided north and south with lots of parochialism and ‘footy is played here, cricket is played here’ sorts of arguments up and down the Midland Highway.

“But I’ve never seen a team or an issue unite the state like this has.”

Australian rules football has always been the dominant sport in Tasmania despite the AFL never granting the state its own side, instead, Hawthorn and North Melbourne have deals with the state government to play games in Tasmania each season.

“Apart from photoshoots when Hawthorn or North Melbourne are here, the AFL almost does nothing in schools – they have really dropped the bundle big time,” Bartlett said.


“The AFL is here in the state but they are only about selling the top line product.”

Last weekend, in a sign of the challenges for footy in the state, one of the state’s best-known clubs, Glenorchy, forfeited its reserves game against Clarence. Glenorchy cited COVID-19, injuries and other factors as the reasons they couldn’t field a reserves team with the Tasmanian State League issuing a statement to say it would work with the club to strengthen its numbers.

Former Brisbane Lions-listed player and aspiring teacher Josh McGuinness took the AFL to task in a series of tweets last weekend.

“The AFL really needs to get its shit together in Tasmania and act now,” McGuinness tweeted.

“I have worked in Tasmanian schools for the best part of six years now and I can tell you that there is a hell of a lot more basketballs being bounced than there is footballs being kicked since the emergence of the JackJumpers.

“I really hope that it is not too late when the AFL act however I fear it is only going to get worse for local clubs in Tasmania with the success that the JackJumpers are having on the community and our next generation,” McGuinness added.

Bartlett, who admits he is no fan of the AFL, said he was hearing the same thing from teachers.

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