A-League clash in Ipswich is reward for years of effort
HAVING dedicated a decade pursuing his football dream, James Buchanan will be a proud man at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
With the support of other passionate football officials, Buchanan has been a driving force getting the Western Pride franchise established for this year's National Premier League state competition.
It all started when Buchanan organised QT Cup pre-season tournaments to get regional clubs working together.
An historic Ipswich Football Association was formed, which later led to the Western Pride franchise representing the region's major clubs.
Buchanan also oversaw the local organisation of the first two Brisbane Roar games against Ipswich Invitational sides. More than 3000 fans enjoyed the entertaining football at the Reserve.
However, Saturday is something special for Ipswich.
Brisbane Roar is playing Melbourne Victory in an important A-League pre-season game at 3pm.
"If anyone wants to watch an A-League game, this is it,'' said Buchanan, who is on the progressive Western Pride committee.
"I wouldn't be surprised if both these two teams finish in the top four.
"It's probably the best possible outcome (attracting Roar and Victory to Ipswich).''
Ipswich Sports House organised the third Roar v Ipswich Invitational team visit last year, which again attracted healthy support.
Roar is promoting this year's game with Western Pride receiving some financial assistance as the region's host organisation.
A successful game at the Reserve on Saturday has other benefits for regional football.
"It's the profile that gets lifted in the area,'' Buchanan said.
"We get to see a lot more families here on the day.''
Buchanan is also pleased how Western Pride fared in its debut season, after all the hard work done by local club officials uniting.
"We knew it was always going to be tough in the first year of the competition. It's onwards and upwards,'' he said.
Buchanan is proud of what the QT Cup achieved in getting clubs together for the first time in 2004.
The emphasis was on regional teams playing against each and sharing ideas, with a focus on youth.
"Go back eight or nine years and we had nothing,'' the former Ipswich City Bulls director and club official said.
"It's only ever been about the promotion of the game in the region and giving the kids the best option.
"The IFA was a stepping stone.
"It all started with the QT Cup. Clubs started to talk, then we had the Roar game for three years.
"The next phase was the NPL - Western Pride.
"We've now got a full blown A-League pre-season game here in town.
"You can't get much bigger than that.
"We're slowly climbing that ladder.''
The Brisbane Roar are playing Melbourne Victory in an A-League pre-season game at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday. Ticket information is available at eventbrite.com.au
The Roar team will play in an event strip that will only be worn twice throughout the season.
Roar players Michael Theo, Dimitri Petratos and Henrique are among those making a special appearance at the Coffee Club at Riverlink tonight from 6.30pm.
A Sportsman's lunch is being held at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre from 12.30pm tomorrow.