Some questions were answered on Friday when Football South Coast officially threw its support behind the Wollongong Wolves’ A-League expansion bid.
But Luke Wilkshire, the face of the Wolves bid, has long believed the region deserved a stand-alone team in the national competition.
And now the former Socceroo wants to make sure young talented footballers are afforded the same opportunities he had, before embarking on a brilliant career which saw Wilkshire play in two World Cups, as well as enjoy stints in England, the Netherlands and Russia.
Wilkshire returned to Australia and picked up a premiers plate with Sydney FC before re-joining junior club Wollongong Wolves this season.
Now he is ready to use his profile to do whatever it takes to lead the region back into top-flight football.
“I wouldn’t be getting involved or put my name to it if I didn’t believe in it. I really believe in it and I think the region thoroughly deserves a spot in the A-League,” Wilkshire said.
“You look at the numbers here, and I’m not just talking about Wollongong, but the whole South Coast, and we have to have an A-League team here.
“You can see our history and we have obviously produced some very good players from this region.
“Now it is about giving a better pathway to the younger generation. And what better way than to have an A-League and W-League team to achieve.”
Scott Chipperfield agrees with his fellow Socceroo that the region deserves stand-alone A-League and W-League teams.
“I’m all for it but we have to make sure we have the right people, especially football people involved,” he said.
“If we can get the right mix of people and the proper financial backing, this region definitely deserves to have an A-League, W-league presence.”
Friday’s developments, which saw the Wolves and Football South Coast publicly join forces, could be the “perfect mix” to boost the region’s chances of securing a spot in the 2019-20 A-League competition.
Wilkshire certainly believes so.
“To have Football South Coast support our bid and to work with us on it is extremely important,” he said.
“If the bid is to be successful, football on the South Coast must band together as one.
“We have the support of our association colleagues in the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Far South Coast, Highlands and Southern Tablelands.
“We have a lot of good people here with different skill sets. It would be a massive boost if we can bring it home.”