Cup year best time to encourage talent

FOOTBALL

Nothing screams football fever like a World Cup year, and Football South Coast don't plan on missing the boat.

It's only January and the governing body is already getting the new season into full swing, launching the campaign with the help of some of the region's biggest exports.

Wanderers derby hero Brendon Santalab and Sydney FC's Corey Gameiro joined a group of local juniors to get the ball rolling for season 2014.

"I think this year is going to be a great year for football with the World Cup, and interest in football just gets to a whole new level," FSC chief executive Ann-Marie Balliana said.

"It is really about encouraging not just our juniors but everyone to become involved in a football club.

"It is all about encouraging everyone to participate in the great game."

With a massive player base set for another big season in the Illawarra, Balliana was pleased two of the region's finest footballers were helping to promote the sport.

"It is great for our kids, in particular, to have role models and the successful football careers that these guys have had can inspire them, but it is also about [how] any player of any age or ability can get into football," Balliana said.

In the past, the Illawarra region has been a great nursery for players launching their football careers, but in recent times the lack of a national league side has made the transition harder.

Local product Gameiro believes a new pathway needs to be created and 2014 is the right time to do it.

"We need to form a pathway and we need to get a relationship where the kids have a future down here so that it is not unachievable," he said.

"It is where they can perform well at a club and then maybe have an A-League club around the corner sniffing around to pick players up.

"Ultimately there are some talented players . . . who are playing for the Wolves who haven't really been looked at properly.

"It needs to improve and that is why I am here, and that is why Brendon has come down, because we want to be a part of it and we want to see it progress on the right footsteps."

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