Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Kyabram Phoenix rises into Regional Premier League

Despite uncertainty over the competition's future, Kyabram Phoenix has decided to enter a team into the Regional Premier League.

DAMEN FRANCIS February 28, 2014 4:35am

Kyabram Phoenix is pressing forward with its Regional Premier League team, despite the uncertain future of the competition.

Traditional league powerhouse Shepparton pulled the pin on its team last week, due to dwindling numbers and concerns about its ability to vie for the premiership.

The inclusion of the Phoenix ensures the league continues to have six sides.

Governing body Goulburn North East Football Association has also met to discuss the way forward, following the arrival of newly-formed National Premier Leagues side Goulburn Valley Suns, with a fixture still to be released.

Phoenix president Simon Fiske said he was shocked at the Reds’ decision to withdraw from the RPL, but he was not concerned about his own side’s competitiveness, as it embarks on its inaugural season.

‘‘I’m not really fussed by what anybody else thinks, I’ve got guys who want to have a go,’’ Fiske said.

‘‘I don’t expect anything from the players except 110 per cent (effort).’’

Fiske likened the project at Kyabram to that of the Suns.

‘‘I’ve got to create pathways for the kids, otherwise when they got to 16 or 17 years old and if we didn’t have an RPL side we’ve developed these kids and off they go and play for another club,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a new thing for the club and it’s a hell of a lot of work ... but it’s something Kyabram had to do if we were ever going to be taken seriously.

‘‘No player in any sport ever wants to achieve to play reserves, so Kyabram had to take the step at some stage.’’

New coach Shaban Mehmet has lured fellow former Shepparton players Carlo Meola and Ben Hawkes to Kyabram, while Jayden Doyle and Josh Stanyer have arrived from Shepparton South.

Ex-Shepparton United junior Sam Merrylees is also on board.

Former South and United goalkeeper Jake Keating has been training and could sign on, depending on his commitments with the Suns.

Like all players and clubs, Keating and the Phoenix are sweating on Football Federation Victoria’s ruling on dual registration for NPLV and local clubs.

With rivals Cobram, South, United and Cobram Victory expected to fill their visa list quota and Tatura at least boasting import playing coach Tom Black, the Phoenix’s band of young locals have plenty of challenges ahead of them.

‘‘Our loyalties are to those who have been at the club since its inception, but they still have to be good enough,’’ Fiske said.

‘‘The young blokes that are coming across have proven themselves in juniors and a lot of them felt like they wouldn’t get a fair dinkum run in their own club.

‘‘A lot of these blokes are some of the most talented under-20s that are in the league and a lot of them have chosen not to play in the NPL.

‘‘They’re young, but enthusiastic, and maybe they’ll be able to run the old boys off their legs.’’

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