Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Soccer bodies put their heads together

A regional council will be formed following a productive meeting between district soccer bodies on Saturday.

MATTHEW GALEA July 8, 2014 3:10am

Football Federation Victoria facilitated a meeting of Goulburn North East soccer’s key stakeholders in Shepparton on Saturday to discuss the future of the game in the region.

Local soccer bodies will form a regional council following productive talks between the game’s key stakeholders in Shepparton on Saturday.

Delegates from Goulburn North East Football Association and representatives from its clubs, Goulburn Valley Suns, Shepparton Junior Soccer Association, Greater Shepparton City Council and Football Federation Victoria met to discuss the state of soccer in the region.

The newly-formed council will have representatives from GNEFA, SJSA, Suns, Goulburn North East Referees’ Branch and council, as well as an independent FFV chair to ensure greater dialogue between the game’s administrative bodies.

GNEFA secretary Belinda Franco said the meeting was long overdue.

‘‘We highlighted the fact that we don’t talk to each other, which isn’t through anything derogatory or bad, it’s just simply we don’t,’’ Franco said.

‘‘The view with the council is to look at aligning our season fixtures, share grounds and just promote the sport a little better as a united front.

‘‘The key to it would be that we are separate, but we could complement each other a bit more.’’

Franco said a merger between GNEFA’s junior competitions and SJSA was discussed, but would not go ahead.

‘‘It’s very easy for our clubs to think in the current climate it would just be easier to ‘just go to the SJSA’, but I think everyone realised there is room for two competitions,’’ Franco said.

‘‘They are very different competitions catering to different people and that was highlighted.

‘‘Our clubs got to see what the SJSA do, where they draw their players from, how they’re set up, what they charge and then in contrast looked at us and I hope everyone was able to go back from the meeting and see why we do what we do and why it’s different.’’

SJSA secretary Karen Hocking said talks were positive and backed the idea of a regional soccer council.

‘‘I think the key issue is making sure the two associations and the Suns go forward in a positive manner which works towards the best thing for (soccer) in the area,’’ Hocking said.

‘‘It’s about working out how we all fit in ... and I think a council is a really good first step.

‘‘SJSA is well and truly based in grassroots and our vision has been clear. We are about participation and enjoyment, and that’s important for kids that don’t want to play at clubs.’’

Hocking recognised SJSA still had a role in local player development and said it always encouraged talented players to move into the development pathway.

‘‘Any kid who shows talent is encouraged to go to a club or go to the Suns, and we encourage development through involvement with our representative squads,’’ Hocking said.

Suns board member Michael Crisera said he was happy with the talks, but agreed communication between the different bodies had been a big issue to this point.

‘‘We need to communicate more,’’ Crisera said.

‘‘That’s a slow process that will take time, but at the moment everyone is looking after their own patch instead of what is best for the sport.

‘‘There is an opportunity to work together and I think the council is the beginning of that.’’

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