BALLARAT Red Devils playing manager Brian Shelley fears for the development of young players in the region following the club’s decision not to pursue a spot in the new elite level statewide soccer league.
Shelley, who last weekend secured the club’s highest-placed finish when fourth in Football Federation Victoria men’s state league two, said the Haymes Red Devils had the ideal model to fit the so-called “B-League” competition, expected to start in 2014.
His thoughts echo the comments of former Red Devils technical director Paul Smalley, who earlier this week slammed the Reds’ move as a “mistake”.
“The B-League has to happen. It just has to happen,” Shelley said.
“It’s not going to be with the Red Devils now, but it has to be somebody else otherwise it’s going to be a tragedy for football in the region.
“The concept of the B-League I think is really good. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be ironed out, but it’s for young, under-25, up-and-coming Australian players. That’s what’s needed and that’s what we have in abundance in Ballarat.”
Shelley said developing young players within the current state league two competition was a difficult task.
“The biggest trouble I had this year, because I played a lot of youngsters, was that sometimes I feared for their safety putting them into that environment,” he said.
Shelley said 2012 had been a standout campaign for the Ballarat boys and believed their achievements had gone largely unheralded.
“The players haven’t got the credit they deserve because of all the distrations of the B-League and whether the club is going to pursue it or not,” he said.
“I really don’t feel as though it has been appreciated what the players have achieved on the pitch, which is a bit upsetting for me because I can see what it means to the lads.”