The two-time NSL champions want to return to Australia’s top tier and they have gained the support of a man with Premier League experience
Adam Federici has become the latest Australia international to throw his support behind an A-League bid, with the Premier League-based goalkeeper becoming Wollongong Wolves’ official ambassador.
Last week, Jackson Irvine and Bailey Wright became torchbearers for Team 11 – the bid to bring A-League football to Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.
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Federici believes the Wolves would be “the perfect addition” to the A-League and that they would “prove to be a gold mine for talent for the future”.
The Socceroos and AFC Bournemouth gloveman started his football journey with Huskisson Football Club, approximately 100 kilometres south of Wollongong, and claims he would never become a professional without his parents driving him to Sydney to be involved in junior training programmes.
Federici was part of the NSW Institute of Sport’s football programme and attended the Australian Institute of Sport before moving to England at the age of 18.
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Football Federation Australia has yet to release a timeline for A-League expansion but many expect it to occur in the 2018-19 season.
“I was really fortunate in that my mum and dad were able to make the three-to-four hour drive, three-to-four times a week plus match days to give me the best possible chance,” Federici said in a statement.
“I was one of the lucky ones as there were many other kids from Huskisson and the South Coast who just didn’t have the support I did.
“I was definitely not the most talented of footballers growing up. There were many, many kids naturally far more gifted than I was who could have easily made it.
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“The difference though was they didn’t have the opportunities i did. The South Coast/Far South Coast of New South Wales is a massive catchment area, brimming with talent.
“We just have to make sure they have the chance to progress regardless of their background or financial status.”
Wollongong currently play in the NPL NSW – they sit seventh after 13 rounds – but were part of the NSL until its conclusion and were crowned Australian champions twice.
The Wolves have been one of the more vocal NPL sides in terms of stepping up to the A-League but they face stiff opposition from Southern Expansion that hopes to start a club based around the football associations of St George and Sutherland in Sydney, plus the South Coast.
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“What really impresses me about the Wolves is they are engaging the entire region and genuinely looking to provide the best options and opportunities for our juniors,” Federici said.
“The Illawarra and South Coast is one of Australia’s great football nurseries and the amount of talent who have come from here and gone on to play A-League, overseas and for Australia is staggering.
“Having an A League presence for the Wolves means the complete pathways are right there for all our kids and they won’t have to experience the difficulties and disruptions I did to make it.
“We’ve proven in the past we can more than hold our own on a national level and we can do even better in the future.”
Federici has been left out of the Socceroos’ squad for this week’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, a friendly versus Brazil and the 2017 Confederations Cup but has played 16 times for Australia and made over 200 appearances in England’s top two divisions.