BENDIGO City FC players say they are intent on making the most of the club's long-awaited return to senior competition.
The club will head to Christmas on a high after its bid to play in the Men's State League next season was approved by Football Victoria late last week.
No one is happier than the players who will don the club's blue and gold uniform and represent the club and city of Bendigo in 2022.
The squad includes about 10 players, who previously represented Bendigo City in the NPL at junior level and have returned to the club following stints elsewhere, due to the lack of a senior team in Bendigo.
Among them is Luke Burns, who has spent the past few years playing NPL football for Pascoe Vale, Eastern Lions and Goulburn Valley Suns.
The 21-year-old says returning to Bendigo City, as the club embarks on a new and exciting phase in its relatively short history, was a no-brainer.
"It wasn't a hard decision at all," he said.
"This was the club I played for as a junior. I did have senior opportunities when I was younger, which was great, but that ended.
"Now that we've got a senior team again, it's a great opportunity to give back to the club and help them get somewhere.
"Working towards the goal of getting the senior team re-established is something I definitely want to be part of."
Burns said the early camaraderie and spirit among players was as good as at any stage in his time at the club.
"It's really good, all the boys are locals. They all knew each other roughly before this," he said.
"Since we've been training and playing practice matches, they've been gelling together really well.
"It's been good on the field and off the field."
While excited the club had gained entry to the state league, Burns said the fact they would be representing Bendigo next season at senior level had yet to fully sink in.
"Ultimately our goal will be to get promoted as soon as we can and we feel it's realistic that it can happen this first season," he said.
"There are some really good signs that things are coming together."
Bendigo City will mark its entry into the MSL by playing in division five.
For 17-year-old Jake Floyd, who played his earliest soccer at Strathdale, but has been with Bendigo City FC since under-12s, elevation to the senior ranks is the logical next step in his development.
"This is a great opportunity for me, something to work hard for and a good goal to set for the future," he said.
"There's about half of our under-17s team competing for game time in the seniors, which is what you want out of your under-17s team."
Floyd, who played a full game in the reserves last weekend and contributed a goal in their 3-0 win over Ringwood, said he had relished the step up to senior football after a solid junior season in 2021.
"I got a couple of minutes in the senior team on Saturday, which is something I was really looking forward to doing," the talented young midfielder said.
"The first couple of minutes was pretty hectic, but I found my feet and just tried to play my own game and do my job.
"I'm really looking forward to next year, hoping we can get promoted and win as many games as possible.
"With the squad we have, I think it's very achievable."
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