The South East region was the proud host of one of the biggest voices in the world game last week during an important trip for the sport.
Last Thursday Football SA CEO Michael Carter was in town to meet people from all levels of the sport to kick off a series of regular trips to help the continual growth of the sport.
Carter spent time talking to officials, meeting all six club presidents and travelling to venues to gain a deep understanding of the local soccer community, while he also took the opportunity to explore options with the city council.
It may not have been his first visit to the region, but the chief executive said he was taken aback by the enthusiasm for the sport in the South East.
“It feels like there is a lot of energy in the Mount and its quite exciting what the future might look like,” Carter said.
“There has been some wonderful work with upgrades to club facilities and we had tours of Centrals and International with Shane (Dycer) and Michael (Prior).
“Everyone was welcoming and there will be more visits to come.”
Carter said the focus of the trip was to get the ball rolling on discussions about the possibility of a centre for football in the Limestone Coast, which could be a massive game changer.
“I have been here many times and very familiar with the region and it was more of a visit to speak to council and the local association,” he said.
“We want to see how we can assist to grow the game more in the region and there is a really strong will to build a headquarters for the game in the Mount.
“It has been on our radar for a number of years and we are really excited about it.
“There is real alignment there and we are hoping in partnership with the council and government we can achieve a great outcome for the game and provide a headquarters desperately needed for the region.
“It will be a community level facility that will cater for the amateur player right through to the semi professional.
“I think there is a huge opportunity for growth in the region.”
Although this was not Carter’s first trip to the Blue Lake City, it was his first chance to meet the new Limestone Coast Football Aswsociation board.
LCFA CEO Chris Fleetwood said it was a great chance to strengthen ties between the local organisation and the governing body.
“It was very important because I want to ensure we have full support and all the right connections with Football SA to make sure all of our agenda in terms of growing the game are in place,” he said.
“Football SA can provide a lot of knowledge in developing and implementing programs and competitions, so we really wanted to tap into the expertise.
“If we want to increase the opportunities for people to play, we need to look at ways we can do that and Football SA can make sure we are successful at implementing them.
“He was all about supporting us and making sure we have a strong connection with the governing body.”
Going forward, Fleetwood said he hopes this trip was the start of more regular dialogue between the two parties to assist with big projects like the new centre for football.
“He was down here previously, but not on a regular basis and we want to ensure we either have him or a representative from his office regularly,” he said.
“One of the key goals for us is having a full time regional officer down here and to provide more facilities because the sport has been under-utilised in terms of facilities and clubs are at capacity.
“We are looking at a new facility, but also at ways where we can capitalise on existing facilities all year round.
“Michael will be coming down for our state of the game dinner in July where we will unveil our strategic plan.”
During all the busy discussions last week, the LCFA Select under age squads for the SAJSA State and Country Championships were announced.
A total of 15 players have been picked for the Under 12 Development, 13’s, 14’s, 15’s and 16’s representative boys and girls sides.
All six clubs field participants and Fleetwood said these squads were the accumulation of a long selection process and he hopes the players can use this opportunity as a platform to launch their careers.
“We had a long process which started with choosing our coaches to ensure we had the right people for the right squads,” he said.
“Because they are young athletes aspiring to be elite athletes the right mentoring at that age is absolutely critical.
“We did it a little bit differently this year because instead of having anybody come along we sent out invitations to individual players and we cut the squads from there.
“One of the things we have been clear on is to ensure everybody gets an opportunity to show their skills, have fun and express themselves in Adelaide.
“It is all about connecting those with the elite pathways and the next step will be the State Identification Process and it would be great to have some athletes from this region to go on and play for state squads or even Australia like Jenna McCormick.”