“We’d like to set up an A-League Youth team in Canberra, as soon as possible,” said Wellington Phoenix CEO Tony Pignata speaking from Melbourne today (Friday).
The seven team A-League Youth League is set to start in August 2008, and Canberra it seems was set to miss out. But fancy footwork from Capital Football CEO Heather Reid and Wellington Phoenix CEO Tony Pignata may have changed the future.
Capital Football’s innovative link with A-League club Central Coast Mariners, earlier in the year, may have lead the Wellington Phoenix to come calling.
Pignata says, “We’d base ourselves in Canberra, our youth team would play all our games in Canberra, with twelve Canberra players included.”
Capital Football Technical Director Ian Shaw talking on Nearpost radio earlier in the week talked of the opportunities of the new league, but also his frustration of seeing his city miss out.
“We may have to bash the door down at the FFA to get a team in….I’d like to hear some voices in the Canberra community calling for a team,” said Shaw.
Well maybe, just maybe, the Kiwis and Capital Football have bashed the door down.
What will the team be named? Maybe Capital Phoenix, or Phoenix FC.
Where will the team play? McKellar Stadium, Canberra FC Stadium? Both are possibilities.
What if Canberra has it’s own A-League team in a few years?
“If that happens we’d move on, but we want to get in as soon as possible, and we see Canberra as the best place for us,” said Pignata.
And of course Canberra can produce quality players. Joe Simunic, Ned Zelic, Carl Valeri and our latest Socceroo Nikolai Topor-Stanley are just a few from the Canberra production line.
AIS Head Coach Steve O’Connor thinks Canberra should have a team in both the youth and A-Leagues.
“Dane Milovanovic, Ivan Pavlak, Sam Munro and Kofi Danning are all in the AIS team at the moment. All are from Canberra. The city has a reputation for producing good players. Joe Simunic is one of the best I’ve ever had through the AIS,” said O’Connor.
How many more could Canberra produce if the region had a Youth team; and of course one day an A League team?
The Phoenix is waiting for approval and support from both Football Federation Australia and Capital Football.
There’s no doubt there is work to be done, but this provides an exciting and tangible pathway for the region’s youth, for spectators and a chance for the Canberra region to test themselves against the best in Australia.
Canberra may not have an A-League side yet, but in terms of building grassroots support this could be the next best thing.
When the Youth League was mentioned last week, Canberra once again missed out, or so it seemed.
If a week is in long time in politics, well it’s even longer in the new world of Australian football.
A Youth team in Canberra, started by Kiwis? I’d like to see that!