Football clubs welcome a wider league with Bundaberg teams

Doon Villas' Joel Nelisen.
Doon Villas' Joel Nelisen. Robyne Cuerel

FRASER Coast League clubs say they would support an expansion of the senior competition to incorporate teams from Bundaberg this year.

Three Gympie sides - Columbia, Diggers and Lions - took part in the home-and-away competition for the first time last year, but the addition of Bundaberg teams would pave the way towards a truly Wide Bay competition.

Expansion plans have been on the table for some time with discussions made between officials from Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Gympie and Bundaberg.

While no confirmation of the expansion can be made until after team nominations are submitted next month, Football Maryborough administration officer and secretary Mel Downes confirmed it was on the cards.

But he stressed it was up to the players to support the idea.

"The people I have spoken to are mostly administrators of clubs and they are all keen on the idea, but the bottom line is the players have to support the concept and be willing to travel to Bundaberg and Gympie," he said.

"I'm hopeful this is the way the competition will go."

While the structure of the expansion league has not been determined, it is understood the men's first and second division, and the women's first division competition would be open for teams from Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Gympie and Bundaberg to nominate.

A women's second division and a men's third division competition, as well as the youth competition will only comprise of teams from Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

For the past few years Fraser Coast sides have participated in the Mecano Cup - a short knockout tournament that's held during the middle of the season - against teams from Bundaberg and Gympie.

The last time, however, Maryborough teams were involved in a league with Bundaberg was in 2004 in the Archem Premier League.

Joel Neilsen, who coached last year's Mecano Cup champions Doon Villa, expects the quality of matches to improve and more even contests.

"I think it is a real positive and will be fantastic for football in the region," he said.

"Instead of having the games where you know you are going to put seven (goals) past them (opposition), at least now you will know you will be playing in a quality match each week.

"I think that will advance any footballer and be great for spectators and at the end of the day help football, which is what we want."

Up to six clubs from Bundaberg have expressed interest in joining the competition, while two Gympie teams are expected to return.

Dave Smith, president of last year's Bundaberg division one runner-up, Brothers Aston Villa, said their players would crave the challenge.

"Everyone is keen and looking forward to taking part in it," he said.

"For us the big attraction is getting the chance to play against different people and travelling to different places.

"We're used to turning up to the same field and playing against the same blokes every Saturday, so it's a nice change."

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