PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Alex Pearce of the Dockers and Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies sets to lead their teams onto the field together during the 2022 AFL Round 10 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Collingwood Magpies at Optus Stadium on May 22, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Fremantle captain Alex Pearce has stated the AFL's hesitancy to expand to Tasmania is "a real concern" amid the rise of other sports and codes.

Talks of handing Tasmania the 19th AFL license have taken place for the better part of three years, with a decision expected to come in 2023 as further support both locally and from the league grows.

While the AFL continues to tread water on the matter as funding for a new stadium is seen as a prerequisite, state clubs like the National Basketball League's Tasmania Jack Jumpers have begun reaping the rewards as a successive side from the island state, while also being prominent at the grassroots level.

The rise in rival sports was initially noticed by Pearce, an Ulverstone product, close to a decade ago, with basketball's trajectory ascending sharply since the inception of the Jack Jumpers.

After growing up in a football-centric state, Pearce believes the AFL is losing its presence at the local level and could soon be surpassed by basketball, soccer or cricket.

"(Footy) is all I've ever known. Just everything revolved around football," Pearce told the BackChat Podcast. 

"I went to community football on a Saturday or Sunday, I played footy growing up if there was a game on, you'd go to Launceston, which was our closest venue, so we'd go and watch it. Footy at school pretty much 24/7.

"I probably noticed later in my sort of teenage years that other sports started to get a bit popular, like soccer and basketball have increasing popularity over there. The Jack Jumpers in Tassie have sort of taken off a little bit.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: Alex Pearce of the Dockers breaks the banner during the 2019 AFL round 08 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Richmond Tigers at Optus Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)

"Chatting at the captain's day, talking about the popularity of these other sports. They don't really compete with (football) on a commercial level and a viewership level, but at a grassroots level they are sort of there and they are a real threat.

"When thinking of the Tassie team, which I've obviously done a lot and I get asked about it quite a bit, the opportunity is there to take back hold of sport in Tassie, because it is still the dominant sport.

"There's a chance in 10 or 20 years' time that it might not be, because the Jack Jumpers are there. There's a pathway right there to go and play for your state and (basketball) is already a pretty popular sport in Tasmania."

Pearce said the AFL has a "huge opportunity" to take back the reins by expanding the competition to Tasmania, with local football clubs folding and basketball on the rise in the Apple Isle.

The Fremantle skipper said local NBL and Big Bash clubs are front and centre at community and school events, a platform non-existent for the AFL with no professional club or license.

"I think it's a huge opportunity," Pearce said. "It's a real concern being a Tasmanian (thinking) what footy might look like in 10 or 20 years.

"There's already local clubs folding every year, competitions aren't as strong, or the old boys are like, it's not like it was back in my day', which it's not.

"The rise in other sports can be linked to just being a lot more present. They're out there. The AFL is always going to be really popular, but not having that link to the community (is a concern).

"At the moment, I'm imagining that the Jack Jumpers are going around to all the schools campaigning and all that kind of stuff. Cricketers do that with the Hurricanes, but there's no AFL teams that are present around schools.

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"I'm doing community visits and school visits around here to Perth schools, Fremantle schools but there's no one doing that in Tassie."

There are currently 24-listed players from Tasmania in the AFL, with Pearce arguably the best of the lot.

While more than satisfied in his new role in purple for 2023, Pearce admitted he would have to give a move to Tasmania some thought if a team was granted the 19th license in the AFL.

"I'm never going to say, as captain of the Dockers, that I'm going to leave," Pearce said.

"Everyone that hears me talking about Tassie knows that I love it, I'm really connected and my family are from there.

"So if it ever happened, it would obviously be something that I'm sure I'd be approached about, I'd have to think about it."

Following a disappointing Round 1 showing against St Kilda, Peace and the Dockers will be hoping for a better result on Saturday night when they host North Melbourne at Optus Stadium.

You can listen to the full BackChat interview with Alex Pearce HERE.