Pride shows way to tackle higher goals

THE Ipswich region's teamwork preparing for next year's Australian Premier League state competition is up with the best in Queensland.

That's the opinion of Football Queensland chief operations officer Ben Mannion who attended Western Pride's community information forum on Wednesday night.

Mannion was impressed with the spirit of co-operation between regional clubs working together for next year's inaugural league.

"Western Pride is probably fitting the model more than any other entity in Queensland at the moment with good community aspects," Mannion said.

"From a feeder club point of view, they are by far the furtherest advanced.

"We're really encouraged with the amount of clubs that they are talking to and the people or players within those clubs.

"We think we'll end up with 4500-5000 players that they can build from."

Western Pride is a new franchise set up by Ipswich's five main football clubs - Western Spirit, Ipswich Knights, Ipswich City, Springfield United and Colleges United.

Brisbane Force has also joined the development plan for the five-year APL licence.

The inaugural APL state competition is due to kick off in March with Western Pride fielding junior and senior teams from under-12 to open level.

Western Pride and Football Queensland officials fielded a range of questions from regional parents, coaches and players at Ipswich Girls' Grammar School.

Newly-appointed general manager Pat Boyle was introduced by Pride interim chairman Kym Wickstein.

Other executive members James Buchanan (deputy chairman), Todd Hunt (treasurer) and Wendy Spencer (secretary) also attended.

Mannion said the leadership of Wickstein, Buchanan and Hunt was pleasing as they are "well and truly entrenched in football".

"They also have a business background as well," he said, satisfied Pride comfortably met the APL criteria.

On Wednesday night, Mannion was heartened by the enthusiastic questions, especially from parents wanting to get involved.

"The other thing parents tell me is they don't care how much it is. If it's value for money, they are prepared to pay anything and do anything for their kids," he said.

"We're setting up something that's going to be great for their kids and hopefully develop better footballers and better people."

A hot issue was how girls and women's football would be catered for under the new structure.

"The APL is not just about bringing elite players to the clubs. It's about developing players as well," Mannion said.

"We're happy to work with clubs like Western Pride to get a women's program in place, bring girls to the program, educate and train them and make sure we get the right coaches as well."

Mannion said he was enjoying his state role setting up the new competition as part of a national strategy.

"It's a big job but we believe it is the best thing to come out of the FFA (Football Federation of Australia) or Socceroo Australia in the olden days," Mannion said.

"We think from a development point of view and a coach education point of view - the two key drivers - that we've got it right."

The APL state competition, featuring 14 zone teams from around Queensland, is set to kick off in early March.

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