No senior teams for City

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 25-Jan-2018

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City's senior players will look for new opportunities in 2018. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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A TURBULENT period in which a lack of on-field success has been matched by dysfunction off of it has taken its toll on Bendigo City FC, which will not field senior teams in any competition this season.

The club has endured a chequered history over its five years at Victorian National Premier League level, last year going winless and finding itself relegated out of the league.

Football Federation Victoria announced the fixture for the NPL season a fortnight ago, with Bendigo City conspicuous through its absence from the schedule.

The club confirmed this week that it would field only junior sides, a move it says has the full support of Football Federation Victoria.

“It will guarantee the sustainability of the club, and will ensure the best junior soccer players of the region have opportunities to develop their skills without having to leave the region,” president Glenn Walker said.

The club will field teams in the NPL from under-12 to under-18 level.

Its senior and under-20s players will be forced to look for opportunities elsewhere.

City had a horrid year in 2017, with coach Srecko Baresic Nikic quitting mid-year forcing Peter Lodewijks to take over as an interim basis.

City was no stranger to coaching change, having seen Esteban Quintas quit on the eve of its first game in 2016, with Marco Kueck and then Jose Santamarta coaching out the remainder of the campaign.

Greg Thomas, who went on to local success with Eaglehawk, coached the City side in 2015 and Steve Martin had the job in the first season when the club was known as FC Bendigo.

That first season was emblematic of the club, ambitious but riddled with trouble off the pitch and a scarcity of results on it.

It ended with a transfer of the licence to the Bendigo City banner to stabilise off-field proceedings after financial woes.

The newly-formed club was derailed by issues at committee level barely a year in as the club had its entire committee resign before overturning the decision days later.

All the while the club’s on-field performances got progressively worse, leading to last season’s campaign which saw a young and overmatched Bendigo side regularly thumped at the hands of much stronger and better-resourced NPL teams.

Walker paid tribute to all those who had been involved with the senior arm of the club during its four years.

He said there are still plenty of positives from the club’s junior ranks.

“In 2017 there were over 20 Bendigo City FC junior players invited to participate in the FFV talented players program.  Seven of these players were then selected to represent Victoria in Japan during September 2017,” he said.

“We want this to continue, and the only way to do that is to make some hard decisions.”

The NPL season begins on February 24.

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