A TRIAL game between a Football Mid North Coast Selection and the Newcastle Jets W-League squad on Sunday at Taree will be an important step towards FMNC returning to the Women’s Premier League first grade next year.
Football Mid North Coast was given permission from Northern NSW to play without a first grade this year but remain in the younger age divisions. This was on the proviso the zone fielded a first grade in 2019.
“I won’t go into specifics, but there was a mass exodus of players after 2017,’’ Mick Grass said.
He has been appointed coach of the Football Mid North Coast WPL first grade side for next year.
He has put together a squad for Sunday made up of players from the WPL age divisions as well as those from the northern and southern women’s league club teams. Grass concedes the encounter will be a huge challenge for his players.
“But it's going to be a great experience,’’ he said.
Grass said Sunday’s squad is primarily made up of players from Taree and Forster-Tuncurry.
“We’ve had about seven training sessions together and the players are really keen,’’ he said.
“We’re going to lack match practice – a lot of the players haven’t had a game for more than a month. We'll be up against semi-professional players who train fulltime and are preparing for the start of the W-League season.’’
He plans to rotate his squad regularly to give the players a chance against the W-League stars and also help with their fitness.
Grass is confident this will provide the impetus for the zone to return to first grade in the Newcastle-based WPL next season. He said he currently has ‘half a squad’ committed.
He said Sunday’s game will help further advance the cause.
The WPL starts in March.
“I’ll organise a get-together before Christmas, but I probably won’t start training until January,’’ he said.
Grass added that Northern NSW will monitor the zone’s progress towards returning to first grade.
Sunday’s game, to be played at the Zone Field at Taree Recreation Centre, will kick off at 2.30 and will be followed by the North/South challenge match.