Gearing up for their inaugural NPL competition
AS THE football season winds down over Christmas, a select few young footballers in Coffs Harbour are gearing up for the start of their inaugural National Premier League season.
The NPL is the competition run throughout Australia as part of an elite player pathway to professional football.
North Coast Football were accepted into the junior program for next year, meaning they enter an under-13s, 14s and 15s team to play against the very best footballers in Northern NSW.
The young players, some of whom are just 12, are training three nights a week, with the season starting in early March.
NCF technical director Gary McGinnis said the commitment to training is a step up from what most players and parents are used to but they were already starting to reap the rewards.
"We're currently in Week 4 of our NPL pre-Christmas training and I said to the coaches on Friday that in Week 4 I could certainly see a marked change in the intensity, but we need to sustain that," McGinnis said.
"Come March we don't want to be playing catch-up from the first match, so as long as the players keep up their intensity and excitement, we will be ready."
Not only is this structure new to Coffs Harbour but it's also the most elite football program seen in the region.
"It's a clearer pathway than any other we've had before," McGinnis said.
"Previously our development programs came to a halt at 14's but now there's a clearer path all the way to men's senior football."
Along with the NPL, North Coast Football has development squads for under-9s, 10s, 11s and 12s as well as two age groups for female development.