BENDIGO Amateur Soccer League (BASL) juniors are eager to seize their opportunity at this weekend's Country Champs in Geelong.
Last contested in 2019, the three-day tournament is making a triumphant return after being cancelled due to COVID in both 2020 and 2021.
Nine regional associations will be involved, including the hosts, Bendigo, Ballarat, Albury/Wodonga, Gippsland, La Trobe Valley, Mildura, Shepparton and Warrnambool.
More than 1400 players are expected to converge on Geelong, an increase of about 400 since 2019.
The BASL is proud to be involved.
League operations manager Lauren Stevens said BASL's representative program was an opportunity for players across the league to come together and represent the region.
Squads train together weekly in addition to their regular club training.
The program also offers the opportunity for coach development, with coaches either currently undertaking or having completed their AFC C licence accreditation.
The program helps build a sense of community across the junior competitions and friendly rivalries at club level.
"The weekend promises to be a fantastic display of representative football and we are proud to be sending over 160 players to this year's country championships," Stevens said.
"After two very disruptive years, this weekend will be a great reward and recognition for the commitment our players, coaches and families have shown."
The BASL will send 11 teams in total: boys under-11, under-12, under-13, under-14, under-15 and under-16 and girls under-11, under-12, under-13, under-14 and under-16.
BASL technical director Louise McColl hopes the league's players and coaches will be rewarded for their patience and persistence over the past few years with a strong performance in Geelong.
"I am looking forward to seeing all of the players, and coaches, finally get to represent Bendigo at the country championships after two postponed years," she said.
"When we attended the competition three years ago it was such a great weekend and we couldn't wait to get back.
"Since then the players and coaches have shown amazing character and commitment.
"I really think it will be a special moment for all when the games finally kick off this Saturday."
The championships will be staged at two venues in Geelong; Stead Park and Myers Reserve, the homes of Geelong Soccer Club and Geelong Rangers Soccer Club.
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