North Coast Football’s under 16 girls right-back Jodi Cooper clears the ball on Saturday during the third round of the Northern NSW State league Cup in Armidale.
North Coast Football’s under 16 girls right-back Jodi Cooper clears the ball on Saturday during the third round of the Northern NSW State league Cup in Armidale. Terry Allen

Youth League need training grounds

NORTH Coast Football’s Northern NSW Youth league may be dominating the competition at the moment but that could very quickly change if a training base with lights can’t be found before daylight savings ends.

The four representative teams are currently training twice a week but with the senior competition kicking off in less than five weeks, ground availability has become a major issue for the talented juniors who are simply trying to impress selectors and talent scouts while they play at a higher level.

The squads are currently using Forsyth Park on McLean Street as their training base twice a week but the ground is also the new home ground for Coffs City United.

North Coast Football’s director of coaching Richard Evans says that being able to share only the one ground is creating a situation that is far from perfect.

“The ground that we’re training at is used on a Tuesday and Thursday by their (Coffs United’s) senior men and youth and on Wednesdays by their senior women first and seconds,” Evans said.

“We have been told that we can get two squads there on a Wednesday and we can have either Monday or Friday for the other two squads which is not ideal.”

With Youth League players and parents making the sacrifice to travel to Coffs Harbour from places such as Yamba, Macksville and Dorrigo to simply train, North Coast Football are trying to find a way to ensure they can continue to offer the opportunities that these young players seek.

The problem will get worse when the number of youth teams that are involved increases to six when training for the under-12s boys and girls teams begins in April to help the younger squads prepare for the Northern NSW State titles being held at the BCU International Stadium on the June long weekend.

“The Junior Development Program is manageable as we start earlier and are generally finished before other teams begin to train,” Evans said.

But that still doesn’t solve the issue of the Youth League players not having grounds to train on in preparation for their matches against the best players from the Hunter Valley all the way up to the Queensland border.

“What we need is a base for training with lights and hopefully playing home games in the State Youth League.”

Evans who is extremely passionate about the development of young talent in the region has one radical idea that may create a solution that creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“One idea that I had was to put it up for tender,” he said.

“We could call for expressions of interest from geographically centrally based clubs who meet the criteria of grounds, facilities, etc.

“As a reward they get the canteen takings and we have a place to train and play.”

North Coast Football are desperately searching for any option that solves the issue and are open to any idea that ensures the quality junior players in the region are able to play a game of football.

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