BENDIGO City FC has pulled the plug on its senior and under-20 teams with sole focus to switch to the club’s juniors.
The club made public its decision on Sunday in a move it says will bring a “renewed enthusiasm” as it enters a new phase in its history.
Bendigo City FC president Glenn Walker said the club would focus solely on developing junior players in the 2018 season and had withdrawn its senior team for the State League 1 competition.
It will continue to field teams in the National Premier League (NPL) from under 12 to under-18 level.
“With Bendigo’s best 150 junior players, and top coaches already signed up, the club remains at the forefront of junior soccer development in the region,” Walker said.
“And that’s the way we want to stay.
“With the full support of Football Federation Victoria, we are excited with this new direction.
“It will guarantee the sustainability of the club, and will ensure the best junior soccer players of the region have opportunities to develop their skills without having to leave the region.”
Bendigo City stumbled through a disastrous NPL campaign in 2017.
The club failed to win any of its 28 games and managed just two draws.
It’s last place finish in the NPL West 2 competition saw Bendigo City FC relegated to the State League.
The club’s under-20 team also finished without a victory and secured three draws.
Walker said Bendigo City FC would continue to work with FFV throughout the year, continuing to build opportunities for Bendigo NPL players in programs like the FFV Talent Identification and Development Centre.
“Everyone at the club, past and present, have been working tirelessly to develop a full pathway from juniors to seniors for Bendigo’s elite soccer players, and they must all be congratulated and thanked for their contributions,” Mr Walker said.
“In 2017 there were over 20 Bendigo City FC junior players invited to participate in the FFV talented players program.
“Seven of these players were then selected to represent Victoria in Japan during September 2017.
“We want this to continue, and the only way to do that is to make some hard decisions.
“With this move, the club is sustainable, in a strong position financially and looking forward to a bright future representing the greatest city in Australia across the country and across the world.
“The NPL Season kicks off on February 24 and we will be making a series of big announcements before then.”
Bendigo City’s senior team had competed in the NPL since 2014.