YOUNG BLOOD: Bradley Smith and the Biloela Valleys will field a younger squad this year with eyes on the grand final prize.
YOUNG BLOOD: Bradley Smith and the Biloela Valleys will field a younger squad this year with eyes on the grand final prize.

Young core leading from the front

THE youth are filling the ranks at the Biloela Valleys FC this season with a strong contingent of teens and young adults making up the numbers at pre-season training.

The Valleys men’s squad has been training since January and they have their first pre-season match this weekend against Nerimberea FC.

Last year’s team captain Rob Singleton said his squad was keen to test themselves against a Central Queensland Premier League team.

“They are a big club from Rockhampton that play in the league above us,” Singleton said.

“Last year we travelled and played their first and second team and we didn’t play our best football, so we want to rectify that.

“The main thing also is to get metres in the legs and time on the pitch to be ready for the season a few weeks later.”

Following the departure of three to four key senior players this season, younger players are stepping up and putting themselves firmly in the mix for division 1 selection for the Valleys FC.

“We had some young players come through last year that showed their improvement and this year we have more that have come on board,” Singleton said.

“We are relying on the youth coming through to be successful this year.”

With a younger core group on the pitch, Singleton said that, while fitness would be a strength of their squad, they shouldn’t underestimate the running capabilities of their opposition.

“Having younger players does help with the fitness side of things,” Singleton said.

“The Gladstone teams in our league also have some young players in their ranks.”

As it is with rural football clubs across Australia, Valleys FC are stretched thin this time of year and cannot confidently say if they can field two men’s teams.

“To have just a first team squad that has many players makes it difficult for everyone to get game time and stay off the bench,” Singleton said.

“That can be problematic.

“Having two men’s teams and our women’s squad means everyone is playing every week and it’s even more important in this league to have two men’s squads.

“Injuries come around all the time so we need to have a big squad.”

Last year Valleys FC’s division 1 men’s team made the Gladstone Senior Competition grand final but went down to Clinton FC.

Singleton said that, while it was a goal to make it back to the grand final this year, there were shorter term goals to hit.

“Short term is getting the team fit and starting the season well,” Singleton said.

“If all of that goes well then the little things fall into place then maybe we get to the finals and perhaps the grand final.”

Singleton said members of the Valleys FC’s women’s team were training on Monday nights.

This weekend’s game is Saturday from 3pm at the Rainbow Street Fields.

The men’s team trains from 7pm Tuesday and Thursday.