Country Victoria’s opportunity to shine

A CITY versus Country fixture has been added to the Worksafe AFL Victoria Country representative calendar for 2014.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the best players from country Victoria will take on a metropolitan senior representative team comprising players from all six senior metro competitions.

The top flight country team will be selected from all leagues competing in the country championships, but is expected to be dominated by players from sides ranked in the top 10, including the Gippsland League.

Gippsland League president Chris Soumilas said achieving selection would be a huge boost, for players in the region especially the younger brigade.

“We’ll be higher up this year (in the rankings) so hopefully some of our guys get noticed a bit more,” Soumilas said.

“It’s an opportunity for them to play at a higher level. It’s good to be on a player’s CV for the future.”

AFL Victoria Country general manager Brett Connell said the match promised to be the highlight of the 2014 football calendar.

“The game will be a great showcase for community football and give country Victoria’s best footballers the chance to play against the highest standard opposition possible,” he said.

“Selection in the Worksafe AFL Victoria Country number one side already represents a supreme honour for country footballers and we expect to this to be even more so next year.”

Connell said AFL Victoria Country remained committed to a representative program for the Vic 2 side as well, which has traditionally been picked from leagues below 11th on the rankings, including Mid Gippsland Football League. “Vic number two are an integral component of our representative system and gives more players a chance to wear the Big V and to test themselves at a higher level,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, WorkSafe AFL Victoria Country (formerly the VCFL) representative sides have traditionally competed bi-annually against the Victorian Amateur Football Association.

The Vic 1 team will be coached by Hawthorn legend Peter Knights.

The Country versus Metro showdown has been tentatively set down for July with an exact date and destination to be finalised in the coming months.