Respected duo full of praise for regional soccer
CRAIG Foster and Ashley Wilson, highly respected within soccer circles in their various roles, are examples of former local residents who now live and work away from their place of origin.
But both remain staunch advocates for the Lismore area and meeting up at the recent Girls' Under 14 and 15s National Championships in Coffs Harbour last week it was a rare chance for each to reflect on their Lismore connections and all things soccer.
Foster, who only returned from the World Cup in Russia last Tuesday evening, drove to Coffs Harbour on Thursday to fulfil his coaching commitments with Football NSW.
The performance of Croatia to reach the final, Foster said, was evidence that small countries like Australia should embrace hope and ambition that will critically engender a belief that the powerful soccer nations can be beaten.
He added the biggest lesson was for countries like Australia to adapt and continue to evolve as the powerful soccer nations do.
The respected football analyst with SBS, who is also a highly-qualified coach, offered some comments about the game in Australia, regional soccer and the rise of female participation.
"We are now seeing teams starting to play the game with more technical purpose,” Foster said. "There is more commitment to the game in a manner that is more serious than ever.”
Foster has always been a huge supporter of regional soccer and believes passionately that individuals who are born and raised outside of metropolitan areas inherently have values and a skillset to supplement the natural talent that is commonly found in country kids.
Contrary to views often expressed that being from regional areas is a disadvantage, Foster highlighted the resilient nature of country people as being a key factor that gives them an advantage over city folk.
Ashley Wilson echoed these sentiments.
Leaving Lismore as a 16 year old, Wilson has lived in Newcastle for many years and has an impressive CV as a player at junior level and subsequently in the former W-League equivalent competition before moving into the coaching ranks.
She has a "B” licence and has been an assistant coach with the Jets for four years.
"I have been involved with the Jets program for five years and multiple sessions a week is now accepted as the norm for girls rather than being optional as it was when I was a young player,” she said.