FOOTBALL: Wide Bay might have missed out on an Australian Premier League licence, but the region's best young soccer players will still have the opportunity to participate in next year's competition.
Football Queensland have invited three clubs who missed out on a licence - Wide Bay, South West Thunder and Mackay Crusaders - to compete as "guests" in the Queensland division of the league with the 12 clubs whose bids were accepted.
Wide Bay, which lodged its APL application under the name Wide Bay Revolution, will take over the running of the region's premier junior sides with the Junior Premier League to be absorbed into the APL.
Wide Bay will be required to fill 10 or 11 junior sides next year - boys' under-12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 and/or 20 and girls' under-13, 14, 15, 18 - with the goal of fielding a senior side in a few years time.
FQ CEO Geoff Foster said it was important Wide Bay had an elite junior pathway for its players.
"Football Queensland acknowledges that these three areas have traditionally been key strategic areas for our sport and we always hoped to create advanced player pathways which are state-wide," he said.
The arrangement also means the new club will effectively replace current Queensland State League Youth sides Bundaberg Spirit and Gympie Fire, which will cease to exist after 2012 with the demise of the QSL.
Wide Bay Revolution CEO Phil Rimmer said the club's inclusion as invitees into APL's junior competitions was a step in the right direction.
"The important thing is the new under-18 team and/or under-20 teams will be inclusive when previously it was split between southern and northern Wide Bay," he said.
"This brings it all together and has cemented the footprint and provides us with fair and reasonable access to a bigger player pool.
"It's also been indicated that they will participate in the south-east competition."
The make-up of next year's competition for all age groups will be determined in the coming weeks.
Rimmer said the club intended to have all its sides train in a "central location within Wide Bay's geographic footprint" but could not announce where home games would be played as they were still negotiating with Football Queensland.