SEBASTOPOL-based soccer club Vikings is one of many at grassroots level that can look to take its game to the big stage through the FFA Cup.
Football Federation Australia yesterday launched the inaugural tournament – modelled on England’s FA Cup – with the final to be played on December 16.
More than 600 teams from eight state and territory federations across the country will battle it out for 22 spots in the competition, where they’ll be pitted against the 10 A-League teams in the knock-out stage.
It is believed Victoria’s four representative semi-professional/amateur clubs will be derived from the state-based Dockerty Cup this year.
Vikings president Rod Oppenhuis said he was a supporter of the cup system, which his club has been involved in at state level in the past few years.
“I think the concept is good because it gives opportunities for lower-ranked sides to play against sides in other states, potentially, if you go through,” he said.
Oppenhuis said the club always aimed to progress as far as it could in the state-based cup, giving it the opportunity to play against top-level teams.
The FFA Cup is just an expansion on that.
“Upsets happen, don’t they?” he said.
“As long as it’s going, we will be playing in the cup system.”
Vikings will play in state league four this season, following the restructure of Victorian soccer that took place after the establishment of the National Premier Leagues competition, where the Ballarat Red Devils will play.
FFA boss David Gallop admitted the competition would be a “seven-figure exercise” for the FFA, which has committed to covering travel expenses for the away sides.
But Gallop said the governing body had secured sponsors, who would take some of the sting out of the bill.
“We’ve got it to a point where it’s affordable,” he said.
“The holy grail for football is making a connection between the grassroots and the professional level, and there’s no better way to do that than to create a cup knock-out competition like this.
“We see it as a very important investment for the game’s future.”
Gallop said a promotion and relegation system and expansion of the A-League were still some years away, but the FFA Cup was an important step in making them viable.
Sides from Queensland, NSW, Northern New South Wales, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will all be participating in this year’s competition. The Northern Territory will join in 2015.