EXCLUSIVE: Soccer changes in the midst in junior competition
SOCCER: The Inter City Cup junior competition is finished and will be replaced with Football Queensland Community Cup format.
The new competition will act as talent identification for players not currently inside the advanced player pathway, that is, not part of clubs in the NPL - National Premier League - or new state-wide competition, the Queensland Premier League (QPL).
Instead of it being club-based like the ICC, the Community Cup will cater for invited zone teams in ages from under-12 to U16 for boys aged and U13 and U15 for girls. As the Cup is invitational, there will be no obligation for zones to try and fill a team in every age group, only what can be managed.
The Observer understands that the FQCC will involve up to 10 zones in a competition which will be played in Mackay in the 2018 June school holidays with a series of lead up matches that will allow the best talent to be chosen to represent zones like Football Central Queensland, Football Far North Queensland, Football North Queensland, Football Brisbane and Football South West.
Either Cairns or Townsville will host the event in 2019 with the other hosting the following year.
"There's no national championships any more for junior boys - they remain for girls at this stage - so the way for players to get noticed will be through competitions or carnivals along the lines that are coming up," Football Central Queensland general manager Jim Douglas said.
Douglas explained that more players from areas such as the Central Queensland region which do not have a QPL or an NPL licence, will have a better opportunity to be recognised at a higher level.
"There are areas such as Mackay, which does have an NPL licence, where the reality is that the players are not playing regular NPL level teams because of their geographical location," Douglas said.
"So a lot of their NPL level kids are actually playing an age higher in their local competition, but they will be eligible to participate in this competition as well."
FQ communications co-ordinator Blake Birt said planning is in its early stages, but he highlighted it will be a positive move.
"Junior football development will be benefited by providing more regular matches with high-level opposition from across the state. In terms of opening up pathways for senior representation, bringing the best players from around Queensland together in one place will certainly provide a convenient talent identification opportunity," Birt said.
"Feedback to the new concept has been positive and we'll be working closely with the zones to iron out all the details and get the competition up and running for next season."