Playing the dream game
IT'S been a dream for many years to have Ipswich field its best footballers in a higher level competition.
Tomorrow that goal moves a step closer with a talent-rich Ipswich under-19 invitational side tackling a Tasmanian Institute of Sport combination at Grammar Arms Park, Brassall.
The 2pm match at the Ipswich Grammar School venue will feature quality young players based in Ipswich, some of whom have moved to outside clubs to further their football careers.
Having those players return in Ipswich colours is one of the main goals of the Ipswich Football Association Centre of Excellence formed two years ago.
Football Queensland development officer Paul Lonton is overseeing Ipswich's junior development.
"They are all talented players," Lonton said of the skilful teenagers chosen for tomorrow's game.
"The idea is to show that the young guys in Ipswich can play football and give them a chance to represent their city."
Lonton said having a Tasmanian side wanting to play in Ipswich was a boost for the city's junior program.
"This can be looked at as an extension to the Centre of Excellence because the young kids that we've got in our program can look at that and say 'well that can be me'," the experienced coach said.
Although all the players tomorrow have Ipswich origins, some have left locally-based clubs like Ipswich City, Ipswich Knights and Western Spirit to play for Brisbane Strikers, Brisbane Force and Queensland Lions.
"What we're trying to do is create an environment where they don't have to do that (move to an outside club)," Lonton said.
"This is probably the first Ipswich representative side we've had for many years.
"Two years ago we started this project and we've hit a lot of bumps in the road.
"But we've persevered and this is an indication of what we're trying to do."
Head coach of the Tasmanian side is Dean May, a former Football Queensland development officer and friend of Lonton.
The Tasmanian players are preparing for the National Training Centres Challenge in Canberra in December.
"We're doing each other a bit of a favour," Lonton said.