The world game returns to the Blue Lake City this weekend when teams kick off 2021 with the Steeline Cup Limestone Coast Football Association season. The three-round pre-season competition has become a popular fixture on the soccer calendar over the best part of 25 years and created a separate identity to the traditional premiership cup.
Unfortunately the Steeline Cup was not possible last year due to COVID-19, but makes a welcomed return on Anzac Day. Defending champion Inter hopes to recreate memories from the 2019 decider with Apollo in a rematch at Casadio Park this weekend.
However, the weeks leading into the opening round have been anything, but smooth. Gambier Centrals and Millicent were also scheduled to face off at MGA Park this Sunday, but the venue on Bishop Road will be untouched.
Millicent decided to forfeit its Senior men, women and Reserve sides from the opening round due to the scheduling clash. Club president Ian Lines said it was a simple case of unavailability. “We had too many players unavailable because of Anzac Day commitments,” he said. “The junior games on the following weekend we still go ahead and we were happy to play seniors on that same weekend, but it got rejected.”
As a result of Millicent’s decision, the club receives a fine, while the Lions get to enjoy the spoils of a 3-0 win with stepping on the pitch. Steeline Cup Limestone Coast Football Association president Eric Nieto explained the reason why the game was to be played on Anzac Day was due to the fixture being altered after the late omission of Portland from the competition.
Another contentious issue in the soccer community has been the management of the respective male and female leagues. Recently the LCFA and South East Women’s Football Association combined in the hope of growing the game increasing the spotlight on the female players.
However, the rules did not allow a woman to play in the men’s competition unless there is no club for her to play for. In the past many clubs have filled men’s teams with female players and they responded negatively to the change.
Eventually the clubs took the issue to the board and it was recently officially overturned, so any player can participate in any grade to help clubs fill the required numbers. Nieto said the grades are “wide open” now but wished all of the clubs a successful year.