Caution needed in Knights move

Opinion

MANY coaches in senior sport seek to attract the best players.

However, when it comes to securing regional support and development, the job becomes a balancing act.

Seeing the new-look "Ipswich'' Knights squad in action for the first time last Friday night highlighted the challenge first-year coach Mark Dykman faces this season.

With the Knights moving from Division 1 into the higher Brisbane Premier League competition, Dykman is welcoming several players from outside the region.

That includes two players from Denmark.

While having imports can build a stronger side, the Knights decision-makers will have to be careful with selections this season.

The Knights team that played in recent seasons was predominantly local players who came through the Ipswich system.

To abandon them in the interests of immediate BPL success may backfire in terms of harnessing a regional following and developing locally-bred players.

Dykman deserves every opportunity to build a competitive side. However, the Ipswich newcomer has to get the mix right.

The hot talking point among regional footballers last weekend was how the Ipswich Knights became the "Brisbane'' Knights virtually overnight.

A number of seasoned players have already left the club and only a handful of last year's side remain to see what happens.

This is a grave concern so close to the season start, especially with a fantastic new clubhouse ready to enjoy at Bundamba.

Meanwhile, the new Western Pride franchise preparing for the National Premier League seems to be on the right path.

With former Goodna-based international representative Kasey Wehrman returning as a player/coach, the focus has been on developing the region's most exciting up and comers.

Some of them have returned from Brisbane clubs after playing with junior Ipswich sides.

It is commendable that the Pride organisation has bitten the bullet and put considerable faith in Ipswich ability.

While the talent pool may be limited in the short term, it stands to grow if regional people embrace the longer-term benefits.

The Knights risk losing valuable support this season if they overlook local players.

A similar situation exists in rugby league between the Ipswich Jets (state league) and Ipswich Diggers (lower level representative competition).

More local people seem to get excited about the Diggers than the Jets because the Diggers are made up of players from the Ipswich competition. That ensures more support from regional families and friends.

The import-stacked Jets meanwhile continue to attract disappointing crowds.

Being a long-time regional football fan, I hope the Knights enjoy a successful season in the revamped BPL.

However, it will be intriguing to see the crowds they attract in coming weeks with a reduced Ipswich player presence and no local derbies against Ipswich City and Western Spirit.

Topics:  ipswich knights, mark dykman, soccer



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