QPL presence will put Wide Bay back on the map
FOOTBALL Wide Bay's Premier League licence will not only put the region on the state's footballing map, but could stem the loss of talented youngsters.
That is the view of the region's Football Queensland game development officer Tim Lunnon, who has spent years working with junior players in Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast.
Football Wide Bay was a shock recipient of a Premier League licence when the 14 new entities were revealed on Monday. Across The Waves was granted a licence, but declined the offer at the 11th hour.
Football Queensland CEO Geoff Foster contacted Football Wide Bay representatives late Sunday night, whom he said jumped at the opportunity.
Lunnon's outlook, for which he admitted to having a "glass half-full approach", was that football could now cement its place as the region's top sport.
He cites the region's presence in premier state league competitions. Netball has a presence through the Thundercats, but that's it.
Talented juniors, who currently have to travel to the Sunshine Coast for a start in the Fire's National Premier League teams, could now have the option of representing the Wide Bay.
"When we're losing these kids, we're not just losing players but their siblings who may also play, coaches, and volunteers," he said.
He said the region had to "foster unity" for the new entity, particularly in the senior divisions.
"We need the clubs to see that it's an extension of their club," Lunnon said.
"When their players are picked, it's a positive reflection of the systems they have in place."
Lunnon said he had already heard from players outside the region. Given there is no QPL team between Wide Bay and Mackay, the region's team could be a gateway for Central Queensland's best.
"I've got no doubt that it will be a busy few months but they'll make it work," Lunnon said.
"We've got some fantastic kids coming through the system. There's a good group I think will be able to reach state teams."
Football Wide Bay said it would not make any decisions on the new entity's structure, name or mascot before discussion with the region's member clubs.