'The most significant deal in Wide Bay football history
FOOTBALL: There has never been a bigger moment in Wide Bay's football history.
The first co-operative agreement between three-time A-League champions Brisbane Roar and a community football club was signed yesterday at Hervey Bay RSL, as Wide Bay Buccaneers signed the most significant deal in the region's history to create a direct pathway to Australia's premier football competition.
The deal will give Wide Bay's football community unprecedented access to the Roar, while providing a direct path from Federation Park Field to Suncorp Stadium, and beyond.
"It's the biggest thing to happen in football in the region," Buccaneers and Football Queensland Wide Bay president Stuart Taylor said.
Under the deal, the Roar will run several talent identification camps throughout the year, provide staff from local football clubs - coaches, trainers and mentors - more knowledge and skills to expand their abilities, and give some of the region's best players the opportunity to jump into the fast lane to the A-League.
"A key focus is to ensure we know any talented players, so there's no talented regional players who are missed," Roar academy director Drew Sherman said.
"We want to make sure if there's a talented player in Wide Bay, we know about them, we contribute to their development in the pre-academy age groups, then provide them the opportunity to enter the academy when it starts at end of U13s."
That will start immediately, with three talented junior Wide Bay players to spend a week at the Roar academy in the next two months.
In term four, the Buccaneers' junior teams, from U13s to U16s, will travel to Brisbane to face the Roar's academy teams. The scoreboard does not matter: it is another chance for the Roar's coaches to get a close view of the club's players.
"It's all well and good to come and see players and for recommended players to have a sample in our environment, but to really vet where they are in comparison to our boys in existing programs, the best way is to organise games," Sherman said. "As much as this is us developing and working closely with the Buccaneers, our presence is about the wider footballing community."
Taylor said the deal would not just benefit players, with coach development a priority.
"To have that pathway open is important," Taylor said. "It's not just for players, it's for coaches too. We have coaches in our region who would love to be coaches of a NPL club or take it further.
"This can provide them the skills, knowledge and mentoring to take it forward."