No youth league in ?07 for Coffs kids
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IT was only 12 months ago when the introduction of the State Youth League was seen as the vital stepping stone required for the talented young footballers within North Coast Football to progress onto bigger and better things.
Only one year down the track and that stepping stone is no longer in existence.
Unable to adequately fill the two girls teams in the competition, North Coast Football has been forced to withdraw from the entire competition due to a requirement that zones must field a squad in all five competitions (three boys and two girls) for the season.
North Coast Football's coaching and development manager Bruce Wallace worked closely with the State Youth League squads last year and he admits that the withdrawal has left him disillusioned with the powers that be in the offices of Northern NSW football.
"We alerted Northern NSW that we were having a problem with the girls prior to Christmas and we received a brief extension," Wallace said of the predicament that faced the local zone.
The brief extension became nothing more than a stay of execution.
"We sought an exemption from the other zones to field less than the five squads but that wasn't given," Wallace added.
"We tried hunting up other players but last week we had to make the decision to withdraw for 2007."
North Coast Football is hopeful of re-entering the competition next year. One issue that will need to be addressed prior to re-admission is the amount of travel required by the local juniors and their families.
Throughout the season there are six trips to Newcastle for parents to contend with while juggling the needs of other siblings.
North Coast placed a request that they be allowed to play double headers on a Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning arrangement to decrease the amount of travel required but this was knocked on the head by Northern NSW.
While disappointed with not playing in the League this year, of more concern to Wallace is what will happen to the development of the talented players in the area.
"In this set up, the better players are being trained by better coaches and training with better players which really increases their confidence," he said.
"This will have to have some effect as the players won't be exposed to the higher standards."
Wallace is frantically trying to organise matches against zones from Far North Coat and Southern Queensland to help fill the void left by the Youth League withdrawal.