BACK OUR BUCCS: Club stands strong in wake of licence threat

FOOTBALL: Children forced to play multiple games against adults and a lack of clear direction from Football Queensland will form two critical arguments in the fight to save the Wide Bay Buccaneers.

The Chronicle exclusively obtained a copy of Football Queensland Wide Bay 's 14-page document that was sent to the governing body in response to the show cause notice issued by FQ on Monday last week.

Low player numbers forced the Buccaneers to withdraw its under-18s team from the competition. The club was given 14 days to show why it should avoid sanction, which can include fines or result in the FQPL licence being revoked.

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FQWB's response, signed by club president Stuart Taylor, highlights how young players were forced to play multiple games, placing players as young as 15 under mental and physical duress as they struggled to field a team in the U18s and U20s competitions.

It also highlighted a disagreement as to whether the Wide Bay is classified as a regional club. That definition, which emails show FQ interprets "regional" as limited to Cairns and Far North Queensland, is important given clubs considered regional had until 2020 to field all seven teams. The FQ board then phased out the use of the word "regional" .

FQWB fought for the local football community's support on the basis it would need only field five mandatory teams in 2018: U13s, U14s, U16s, U20s and Senior Men. The initial presentation was broadcast on Facebook on June 21, 2017.

Wide Bay officials, in consultation with FQ, developed a plan where U15s and U18s were to be introduced in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

On June 27 2017, FQWB was advised the FQ board decided all FQPL clubs must field teams in all seven age groups, and Wide Bay must make a formal request for exemption. The FQ board rejected the Buccaneer's request.

The number of under-age players backing up for the U18s and U20s teams increased as the season wore on. On five separate occasions, four or more U16 players took the field for the U18s team to ensure the club could satisfy fixtures.

In the Round 12 games against Rochedale Rovers, four U16 players were part of the U18s team that lost 11-0. Ten U18s then played in a 10-0 loss to the Rovers' U20s.

FQWB will argue the long-term physical and mental impact on those players could result in them being lost to football entirely. A review found player numbers are not sustainable in the U18s and U20s.

A healthy representative football ratio, the number of players playing for a representative team compared to players available in the zone, is quantified as 5%. The Buccaneers need 16 players per team, but small player pools - 134 in U18s and just 73 in U20s - result in unsustainable ratios: double the U18s (11.9%) and quadruple the U20s (21.9%).

In a statement last week, FQ CEO Richard Griffiths said any penalty would take "into account the best interests of the community in the Wide Bay region". He said FQ was "previously aware of the difficulties encountered by the club and have worked with Wide Bay Buccaneers throughout the course of the season to alleviate these challenges".



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