The future of Shellharbour's next football superstars is now much clearer following the announcement of the merger of Shellharbour Junior Football Club and Shell Cove FC seniors under the one branch - Shellharbour Football Club.
In a process that took nearly five years to get over the line, the region's biggest junior football club now has a direct pathway to senior football. The men's side will have first, reserve and youth grade teams to compete in the District League in 2023.
The club has also wasted no time in securing a coach for their first grade men's side, signing current grand final winning coach Rod Williams from Unanderra.
Despite on-going rain affecting the majority of last season and off the back of two COVID-19 interrupted football campaigns, Shellharbour Junior FC had 864 players registered in 2022.
Club president Yani Sekuloski told the Mercury that he was incredibly proud of the efforts of all involved to get this move over the line and that it was crucial for the region's juniors to secure a direct line to seniors.
"The area has been screaming out for a pathway for both men and women for a number of years," he said.
"Watching the local Premier League and District League games there are actually quite a number of Shellharbour juniors playing [for other clubs]. The local U-20 Premier League grand final [this year] had 12 Shellharbour juniors playing in the match. To have a direct pathway and to give kids at 15 and 16 the opportunity to know where they're going is very important.
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Speaking on what the aims for the first season would be, Sekuloski said stability was the most important thing in the eyes of the club.
On the appointment of Williams, Sekuloski added that signing the experienced coach was a no-brainer considering his resume and also coming off the back of a grand final win.
"The knowledge of football [he has was the main reason]," he said.
"His record speaks for itself. He's been around the game a very long time so I think the club are very fortunate to have him."
The announcement caps off a sensational year for the junior club, with three all three of their sides winning their grand finals at the Football NSW state 'Champions of Champions' tournament in Sydney.
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