Mitch Nelson (left) and Chris Chapman fight for possesion during the Sage Cup at Uki.
Mitch Nelson (left) and Chris Chapman fight for possesion during the Sage Cup at Uki. Blainey Woodham

10-team comp the answer for soccer

JOE Scholl believes the key to his proposed Northern Zone football competition is strength in numbers at Tumbulgum Rangers Football Club on December 12.

The Uki Pythons coach has been vocal all season about his perceived need to recreate a league similar to the old Tweed District competition.

He considers it an essential step to not only ensure the longevity of the game in the region, but also for the sustainability of local clubs and ensuring home grown talent remains on the Tweed.

His gripe is not with Football Far North Coast (FFNC) as such, or Gold Coast Soccer for that matter, but with the continued downfall of the world game at a senior level in the region.

“To put it bluntly, the FFNC first division is in tatters at the moment and the state of Tweed-based sides is continually declining,” Scholl said.

“It’s quite obvious that there are many players in the area not playing the game because of the extensive travel.

“I think the solution I’m putting forward for a 10-team competition is feasible and far better for players, referees, sponsors and crowds.

“I really believe that once the ball gets rolling on a Northern Zone competition and everyone hears about it, players will come back and clubs will flourish once again.”

“By having good numbers at this meeting, it will back what I’ve been saying ... that we need this comp up and running,” Scholl said.

Of the eight teams that once made up the Tweed District competition, each sporting a first, reserve and women’s outfit, only three remain in FFNC, the governing body for all sides from the border to Lismore.

While Tumbulgum’s men have all but folded, 2009 FFNC first division outfit Kingscliff last year crossed the border to join early nomads Tweed Heads and Border United in Gold Coast Soccer first division.

After a couple of years in the wilderness, Murwillumbah regrouped in 2009 but they, too, opted to play Gold Coast Soccer, while Banora Point were ultimately forced to team up with Tweed Heads the same season.

That left just Pottsville, Burringbar and Uki under the FFNC banner this season. With Pottsville playing premier league, Burringbar and Uki potted along in what was only a seven-team first division.

Not only were two of those seven, Dunoon and Kyogle, not up to standard, with Kyogle self- nominating for demotion back to second division, but the Bandits and Pythons found themselves making the long drive south to Casino and Lismore for the majority of the season.

Scholl’s Northern Zone concept, which would play under FFNC regulations, is set to reignite the local footballing scene.

And Scholl is confident he’s got the support from club hierarchies to make it happen. While he concedes Tweed Heads and fledgling amalgamated Gold Coast Soccer premier-leaguers Tweed Valley Kings most likely won’t come back south, having successfully established themselves north of the border, he has attracted all other clubs to the scheduled meeting, together with three southern ring-ins.

Working down, Border United, Banora Point, Kingscliff, Pottsville, Tumbulgum, Uki, Burringbar, Ocean Shores, Mullum/Brunswick, Bangalow will all be in attendance. Furthermore, FFNC president Paul Parry, together with a member from his board and a representative from Northern NSW Football, will also be present, as will several Tweed-based referees.

“These guys are very interested in the situation at Far North Coast and my proposal,” Scholl said. “We can go from an ordinary men’s comp, number and strength wise, to a sturdy one which will also have a stable effect on the ladies comp. Hopefully with having a Northern Zone comp, some of the referees we lost for the same travel reasons may come out of the woodwork, along with fresh faces too.”

Scholl extended an invitation to anyone else interested in attending and lending their voice and support. Kick-off is at 2pm.

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