Bendigo soccer shoots for the big time

A PATHWAY to the A-League could soon be laid down for Bendigo soccer players through a new state-wide competition.

The Bendigo Amateur Soccer League wants to create a regional representative club in the Victorian National Premier League.

Kicking-off in March, the VNPL's seniors will play arguably the best standard of Australian soccer below the A-League.

Juniors will take on the state's best on a weekly basis.

Bendigo has applied for a licence for boys and girls' teams, with a longer-term view to introduce seniors.

BASL expects to find out on Monday if it has the green light to join the VNPL.

"Football Federation Australia has created the national premier league and the idea is to create a clear pathway from grassroots through to the A-League," BASL operations manager Brock Rogers said.

"A lot of the states have already started their national premier league competitions, but Victoria wanted an extra year to work out how to unroll it.

"You're looking at having (under) 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s boys and girls as well.

"The whole idea is to have the better kids playing against better opposition more frequently, which is what other countries across the world are doing at this time.

"Our bid to FFV doesn't include senior men's team for the first couple of years, because similar to the Bendigo Gold we understand the expense of putting a senior team on the park.

"Our intention is to slowly grow it to a stage where we could have a senior component.

"In a few years' time we could have a Bendigo team playing against a team with the history and culture of South Melbourne."

Victorian National Premier League clubs would also take part in FFA's new Australia-wide cup competition, similar to the UK's FA Cup.

"It will also start having (promotion and) relegation into the A-League as well. So obviously if somehow this amazing stuff happens then in 15 years' time Bendigo could have a side in the A-League," Rogers said.

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