Why Mackay football needs NPL representation
THE quality of Mackay football likely teeters on the continuation of the Magpies Crusaders United franchise.
A former Mackay junior chimed in on how keeping the semi-professional team would ripple across all age divisions and skill levels in the region.
Few could recognise the importance of the Magpies Crusaders as well as Jake Clancy, who had to travel south of the region at just 14 to pursue his football dreams.
When Clancy felt he hit a blockade in his pathway his mother packed her bags and took them to Brisbane.
"Family has always had my back. Mum even moved away from Dad for a bit just to help me accomplish my dream," he said.
"Mum lived with me for a bit through my high school until I started university, now she's moved back."
The NPL level goalkeeper understood that not everyone has the support to achieve that tall task, which is why losing the Magpies Crusaders team in the NPL would regress Mackay football back to the dark ages.
In the limbo between the folding of Whitsunday Miners and well before the birth of Magpies Crusaders United, Clancy thought pursuing a career in football was an impossible task.
"As soon as the NPL came in we didn't have a team, so I thought I had to move to a different town that did; somewhere I could play at that top level," he said.
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The goalkeeper now players with Brisbane City FC in the NPL, but started with the Moreton Bay NPL program seven years ago.
While he does not regret his move to Brisbane, he said he would often think of what could have been if Mackay had secured an NPL licence when the competition launched in 2013.
"I think about that sometimes and it's weird looking back at it now," he said.
"It would have been good to have that goal and being able to visually see a team and players to strive towards.
"If that opportunity was available in Mackay I could have been playing for the Mackay Crusaders."
In Mackay, Clancy did the regular representative rounds and worked his way up to the Queensland Country team.
"Queensland Country was the farthest I went. I thought I could have gone further with it so I went to Brisbane for the opportunity," he said.
"I moved to play football, there were just more opportunities down here in Brisbane."
From an outsiders perspective Clancy said the Magpies Crusaders side would continue to improve the quality of soccer in the region, should they avoid relegation this season.
"I see Mackay has a few players from outside the region, which is great for the talent," he said.
"It draws players who want to play at the top level.
"Travelling each week would be a dream for some young players. Being able to see players like Michael Lyall and Mitch Wright play will be great for them."
With the likes of Northern Fury and Cairns FC fading from the NPL, Clancy said Mackay had a duty to represent regional Queensland.
"It would be extremely disappointing having a team like that fold. For the NPL there aren't really any other rural teams up north," he said.
"If you have the opportunity at home to play at a semi-professional level, it would be great."
Clancy added that Mackay's impressive run in the FFA Cup would only improve their reputation amongst the football circles.
"They (had) a good (FFA) Cup run, so it's good to see they're getting some publicity," he said.