FOOTBALL Mid North Coast (FMNC) will have a team in the National Premier League (NPL) within three to five years.
This will pit players from the FMNC area that stretches from Gloucester to South West Rocks against some of the powerhouses of Northern NSW football. FMNC is already represented in the boys junior NPL age divisions and has been given special dispensation to play in the under 18 men next year. FMNC also plays in the Herald Women’s Premier League in the under 14, 16, 18s and first grade competitions based in Newcastle. The under 16 were premiers this year.
FMNC chairman Mike Parsons from Taree said entering the NPL is a goal of the board of directors and he believes it will be a significant boost for the code here.
“It’s not a pipe dream,’’ he assured.
Mr Parsons is confident there are players of the necessary standard for FMNC to be competitive in the NPL, where they’d be up against clubs including Broadmeadow Magic, Lambton Jaffas and Edgeworth. The NPL is a national competition which is considered to be the second tier to the A-League.
Mr Parsons concedes there is some opposition within the FMNC fraternity to entering the NPL. He said the argument is that this would be a further drain on players from the Football Mid North Coast Premier League and would result in a drop on standard.
However, he believes exposure to the NPL will help improve the premier league.
“Not every player is going to make the NPL side and those who don't will filter down to the premier league clubs,’’ he said.
“I think it will help us produce better players for the premier league and result in a stronger competition.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’ll be going with an eight club competition in the premier league from 2019,’’ Mr Parsons said.
“That will help share the talent around.’’
However, Mr Parsons said finding a suitable home ground in this area could be a stumbling block. Grounds have to meet criteria for NPL fixtures.
He said Football Mid North Coast could seek to have a more regular presence at the either the Regional Stadium at Port Macquarie or the Harry Elliott Oval at Tuncurry to host matches. The zone field at Taree Recreation Centre has potential but Mr Parsons said it facilities for players and spectators would need to be improved.
In the long term he said the code needs its own base in this area.
The regional stadium at Port is heavily used by various codes and is the headquarters for Port City and Port Macquarie rugby league clubs. Forster-Tuncurry Rugby League Club is domiciled at the Harry Elliott Oval. The impact other codes have on the field surface – particularly rugby league – is to the detriment of football.
“Rugby league games chop up the field. We need a level surface,’’ Mr Parsons explained.
He confirmed FMNC is currently negotiating with Port Macquarie Hastings Council regarding the establishment of a regional football facility in Port Macquarie, but said nothing has been resolved.
Mr Parsons hopes to also speak with MidCoast Council on the matter as soon as is practicable.