By Shaun Mallia
THE Latrobe Valley will miss out on a Melbourne Heart pre-season friendly match this season, but the A-League club has reaffirmed its commitment to the region.
Speaking to The Express, Heart chief executive Scott Munn said the club was limited in what A-League games it could fit into its pre-season schedule.
Heart’s only A-League pre-season match has been scheduled for August at Lismore against Brisbane Roar and it will also play a non-A-League pre-season game against a Goulburn North East Football Association All Stars side today.
“There is a real opportunity of (returning to the region) and it will happen; it is about juggling the team schedule and A-League matches that we need to play,” Munn said.
“We are not coming out to the Latrobe Valley this season, but it is not to say we will not be coming out in the future.
“We will continue to have a player presence in the Latrobe Valley and what is clear is that we have a greater commitment to the Latrobe Valley than any other A-League club and we will continue to do so.”
Munn said the club’s “good relationship” with Latrobe City Council and Gippsland Soccer League would continue, with Heart and the GSL to take part in family days in mid-August.
He added Heart’s youth head coach Joe Palatsides conducted a talent identification session in Traralgon earlier this month, which was evidence of the club’s ongoing presence in the Valley.
GSL board chair David Wilson said the relationship between the soccer league and Heart was strong.
“Of course it is disappointing for us and the region that Heart will not be playing a pre-season match in Gippsland,” Wilson said.
“But we do have a good relationship with Heart and we hear a lot more from them than other A-League clubs.”