LVSL claims country crown on debut

LATROBE Valley Soccer League enjoyed a successful debut junior Country Championships campaign when it sent six sides to Bendigo over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

The league’s under 16 boys’ representative squad led the charge with a gold medal, defeating host Bendigo 2-1 in the final at Epsom Hunter Reserve.

LVSL’s under 12 boys were also superb and went undefeated through six rounds before a narrow 4-3 loss in the final against Albury-Wodonga to secure silver.

The under 14 boys came just shy of another medal for LVSL when they played off for bronze but went down 2-1 to Geelong.

The league’s three girls’ sides, contesting under 12, 14 and 16 age groups, all played well throughout the competition but were not able to reach their respective finals.

LVSL junior coordinator Allan Roberts said it was an outstanding first showing for the new league.

“For the first year of the new league to get the six teams up was really pleasing,” Roberts said.

“We made the commitment at the start of the year to give the kids as many opportunities as possible and the country champs is definitely something we want to put on the radar each year.

“We wanted to go up there, not as six teams but as a league… the kids hung around, we had a central station each day where they all supported each other; it was great to see all our juniors come together under the league banner.”

The representative squads were chosen from the local level sides with representation from a majority of LVSL’s 13-member clubs.

Roberts said the diversity of clubs was encouraging as the league looked to offer its members a chance at higher levels of the game.

“We are very committed to developing a pathway for our talented kids in Gippsland and working with FFV, Gippsland FC and organisations like that to give our kids as many opportunities to develop and grow in the game as possible,” he said.

“We’ve got the talent here in Gippsland, that was on show this weekend, now we want to make sure we develop that talent, not just at a player level, but we want to give coaches a chance to further themselves as well.

“We want to keep these squads together and the kids will be given different opportunities at tournaments through the course of the year.”

A total of 109 games were played over three days across the three age groups with some 900 junior players competing.

Albury-Wodonga Football Association was the leading league and won four of six titles on offer.

Under 16 boys: Latrobe Valley Soccer League 2 def Bendigo 1

Under 14 boys: Albury-Wodonga 5 def Warrnambool 0

Under 12 boys: Albury-Wodonga 4 def Latrobe Valley Soccer League 3

Under 16 girls: Albury-Wodonga 2 def Sunraysia 0

Under-14 girls: Ballarat 1 def Albury-Wodonga 0

Under-12 girls: Albury-Wodonga 1 def Ballarat 0