Premier League stars to take on Wolves

FOOTBALL

The best players from the Illawarra Premier League will get the chance to take on the region's elite South Coast Wolves club in a proposed All Stars fixture next year.

Football South Coast (FSC) yesterday announced plans for a mixed side from the top local competition to play the Wolves in a friendly match during the 2014 pre-season.

While the exact date and venue remain unknown, it is expected to be played during February, with a youth grade curtain-raiser.

FSC chief executive Ann-Marie Balliana said it was a idea they had been working on for some time.

"It is a concept that came up when we had the friendly with Sydney FC and the Newcastle game - we were looking for a curtain-raiser but at that time the IPL was going through their semi-finals, so the timing wasn't quite right," Balliana said.

"We thought it is a great idea and something that could generate a lot of interest. We thought pre-season was a good opportunity to look at the again and we have decided to run with it."

Before the match, supporters will get the chance to say who they think should coach and play for the Premier League All Stars, with a maximum of two players per club.

Balliana believes the match is a great way to engage the football community.

"We are really using it as an opportunity to gain a lot of interest in the 2014 season of football, as a way to showcase the quality of football in the area," Balliana said.

"Already we have seen a lot of interest through social media.

"It is absolutely something we would like to do on an annual basis as a season opener to celebrate football on an annual basis.

"It gives us a great chance to look at the talent we have running around on a weekly basis."

South Coast Wolves coach Richard Lloyd agreed and was pleased to be able to strengthen ties with the local competition.

"We are trying to show that there is a link between the local clubs as well as the Wolves," he said.

"We said we would be involved in that for sure. We are trying to foster that relationship as much as possible."

The Wolves gaffer already dipped his hand into the talent pool on offer in the local competition, signing Matt Bailey and Nuno Pires to the club for the 2014 season.

He hopes it is a trend that can continue.

"We had a really good look at a lot of the players down here because that is the philosophy we are trying to get up and running.

"Hopefully, in the future, it will be all local players [in the Wolves]," Lloyd said.

"There are a couple who come from Sydney but they have been down here for a couple of years."

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