Bendigo in national soccer spotlight

ELITE soccer is coming to Bendigo.

Football Federation Victoria announced on Friday that the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League had been granted one of 30 licences for the new National Premier Leagues.

While the structure of the NPL Victoria competition won't be announced until next week, the BASL will field eight teams, including boys and girls junior teams and an open men's team.

The competition, which starts in eight weeks, gives Bendigo's junior soccer stars a pathway to the best competition in Australia under the A-League.

"Bendigo have tossed around the idea of having a club play in an elite competition in Melbourne for nearly 20 years, and with the BASL in as strong a position as they ever have, it was no better time to create such a club with the formation of the NPLV,'' BASL operations manager Brock Rogers said.

"We have had a lot of success in recent years at junior levels, but it hasn't translated into success at senior level due to lack of opportunities. The NPLV will provide that going forward."

The club will wear Bendigo's traditional colours of blue and gold and a team name and mascot is still to be finalised.

Bendigo will compete against Victorian soccer powers, including South Melbourne, Melbourne Knights, Green Gully, Sunshine George Cross.

Ballarat, Geelong, Shepparton and Albury have also been granted a licence.

BASL president Andrew Mertens said the league's clubs fully supported the move.

"People are always nervous about change, but all our clubs are comfortable with where we are heading,'' Mertens said.

"It's a major change to the pathway for soccer in our region. It's fantastic news."

The club's home games will be played on Saturdays, with Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve the likely home base. The BASL is also keen to play some home games in Moama and Swan Hill.

"This is great news for tourism in our region as well,'' Rogers said. "Every home game the NPLV will attract about 1000 people into the city."

All coaching positions for the club have been advertised on the BASL website.

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