A desire to keep its youngsters is the driving force behind Ballarat Soccer Club entering the Football Victoria state men’s league this year.
Ballarat has been accepted into division five west.
Club secretary Peta Hodgson said it was all about providing a pathway within its own ranks.
She said while there were other opportunities to play at higher levels in Ballarat, not everyone wanted to or was able to take those steps.
“We want to keep our players.”
Hodgson said hopefully in the years to come the club would give players a chance at higher levels.
As well as fielding seniors and reserves in state league, Ballarat will continue to play in the Ballarat and District Soccer Association senior competitions.
Head coach Jamie Winton is excited by the challenge of leading the club into a new era in what will also be a new experience for him.
A 250-game veteran with the club, Winton said players had already risen to the added commitment required to play at state league level. “They’re keen to have a go.”
Ballarat has lured former players Luke and Adam Swards, Jake Romein and Jack Mirabella back from Sebastopol Vikings.
Winton said their experience from a state league tean environment would be invaluable in a side ranging largley in age from 18 to 22.