Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Goulburn Valley Suns on the rise

The committee behind the Goulburn Valley Suns is confident it will have all necessary structures in place before the start of the National Premier Leagues Victoria season.

DAMEN FRANCIS February 14, 2014 4:06am

Goulburn Valley Suns interim chair Geoff Dobson, City of Greater Shepparton mayor Jenny Houlihan and Suns board members Michael Crisera and council chief executive Gavin Cator face a busy four weeks ahead of the start of the National Premier Leagues Victoria competition.

The team behind new Shepparton-based National Premier Leagues Victoria entity Goulburn Valley Suns is bullish about its chances of being ready in time for the new season.

Details about the league structure emerged this week, including a start date for the senior competition — four weeks from today.

Unlike the majority of NPLV licensees, the Suns have no existing structures in place, with eight teams worth of players and coaches, as well as training and playing facilities and playing kits, to be established in the next four to six weeks.

Albury-Wodonga entity Border FC will join the competition next year, but Greater Shepparton City Council chief executive Gavin Cator said an early start was the best way to go.

‘‘I know it places pressure on everyone ... but 12 months of experience before an Albury-Wodonga (team) comes in is going to be beneficial,’’ Cator said.

‘‘We talk about home grounds, we talk about facilities, they’ve all got to be worked through, but we’ll do that.

‘‘Ultimately, when we have seven soccer fields and a synthetic soccer field at McEwen Reserve, that’s a 12-months-of-the-year facility.

‘‘Sometimes it’s better to strike when the iron is hot and it’s roasting hot at the moment.

‘‘The other important component is while we have all the leagues and clubs on board, it’s important we do it now.

‘‘We will retain those young adults within our community and they will then be drafted into the Melbourne Hearts and Melbourne Victorys etc, so, for me, let’s get on with it.’’

The board was stunned at the Suns senior and under-20 teams being place in the top tier of the NPLV structure, but Cator said it was a tribute to the professionalism of the council-backed bid and the existing soccer community.

Suns board member and operations committee leader Michael Crisera said the issue regarding the geographically-divided junior conference the Suns were placed in would be raised with competition governing body Football Federation Victoria prior to returning the signed licence agreement next Wednesday.

The Suns were drawn against teams from inner and eastern Melbourne, instead of teams to the north and west of the city.

With $14million to $15million about to be spent on upgrading the sports precinct at McEwen Reserve, City of Greater Shepparton mayor Jenny Houlihan said as Shepparton considers itself a major regional city, ‘‘we need to act like one.’’

‘‘Anytime there is an opportunity to do something like that to give our community more opportunities we need to be in there,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a way to promote the region, give opportunities to our soccer players and our sponsors and other partners.’’

Until the facility is ready, the Suns will seek a temporary home base, which is still to be determined.

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