NEW coach Michael Busija is the man that will lead newly-branded Sebastopol Vikings into state league soccer.
Now known as Vikings FC, the club will play in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league five competition this year.
This gives Ballarat two clubs at state league level, with the Vikings joining the state league two-based Red Devils.
“The depth that we’ve been creating over the last five years, it’s come to a point now that we feel comfortable that it’s the right time to go in,” Vikings president Rod Oppenhuis said.
“It’s not only great for us, it’s great for the whole Ballarat football community.
“There is a gap in the market at the moment between Red Devils and local league and those players have nowhere to go.
“We are trying to provide the opportunity to play in a league higher than local level, but not quite as good as state two.”
Oppenhuis said dropping Sebastopol from the club’s name was something that had been talked about for some time.
“We’ve created a new identity in state league to recognise ourselves as part of a region not just calling ourselves Sebastopol,” he said.
Busija, who has played for the Vikings while coaching the Red Devils’ development team for the past two seasons, will be assisted by last year’s coach Paul McClounan.
Busija said a shift to state league competition opened up greater opportunities for the club.
“Being in that competition, all of a sudden you have got the opportunity to progress. When you are in the local league, that’s it. You don’t go down, you don’t go up,” Busija said.
“Five, 10 or 15 years who knows where you could be? That’s the exciting part for me. There is the opportunity to do that, whereas we’re a little bit restricted otherwise.”
Busija said he expected the senior team, which won the Ballarat and District Soccer Association league title last season, to be around the mark in 2013.
“With the squad we had last year, I think we’d certainly be competitive and mid-table, pushing up towards a top half finish,” he said.
Vikings will have senior and reserves teams in state league this season and will maintain their presence in the Ballarat and District Soccer Association, with two men’s and one women’s side, as well as junior boys and girls outfits.