SOUTHERN United football coach Jonathon Newman is confident the club will have a roster capable of making the Coastal Premier League semi-finals next year.
United will be making its debut in the competition in 2022 after Football Mid North Coast's board last week chose them over fellow nominee, Camden Haven Redbacks, to become the sixth club from this area to join the CPL.
Twelve clubs from Forster-Tuncurry to Coffs Harbour will contest the CPL next year.
"I wouldn't take the job on if I didn't think we could make the semi-finals,'' Newman said.
He has the added advantage of having an idea of what United will be up against.
"I had a son playing for Boambee Bulls this year, so I saw all the sides in action,'' Newman explained.
While clubs from the North Coast Football zone dominated the top positions in this season's competition that was eventually aborted due to the lockdown, Newman is confident Southern United will be capable of matching them.
"I have no doubt that we'll get a few lessons along the way,'' he said.
"But I don't think there was that much between the standard of the clubs from this area and those from the north.''
Newman said the Great lakes football community is enthusiastic about playing in the higher standard competition.
"This is going to be a massive boost for football in this area,'' he predicted.
He hopes to have a roster of around 30 players.
"When I was coaching before I'd like to have around 25 players,'' Newman explained.
I wouldn't take the job on if I didn't think we could make the semi-finals.SOUTHERN United football coach Jonathon Newman
"But if we work on having six to seven players unavailable each week due to injuries or unavailability, I think we'll need 30 plus for the CPL.''
He admits ensure players get adequate game time when everyone available will take some managing.
Players formerly associated with the Wallis Lake and Tuncurry-Forster clubs would be expected to dominate the roster. Bringing together players from two separate clubs can be fraught, however, Newman is sure it won't be a factor.
"The players are happy to be in this competition and they'll put old rivalries behind them,'' he assured.
Roan Whiteman is one player who will be starting for United. A former powerhouse with Wallis Lake, Whiteman has turned out with Port Saints for the past two seasons as Forster-Tuncurry didn't have a CPL club.
"Roan is a central figure for football in this area,'' Newman said,.
"He has the respect of other players.''
The competition will involve playing matches in the Coffs Harbour area and Newman concedes that travel will be a factor.
"But players who were in the old (Mid North Coast) premier league had to go to Port Macquarie and Kempsey. We will only have six trips in total out of our zone and I don't think that's too much,'' he said.
COVID-19 restrictions will determine when the club starts training although hopes some type of pre-season gathering can be arranged this year. Training should start in earnest by mid-January.
Newman realises this is a challenge.
"But I had last season off and that was my first real break for 19 years,'' he said.
"I'm refreshed and I'm really looking forward to next year.''
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