Northern Fury director of football and coaching Ian Ferguson believes the ambitious club are ahead of a handful of A-League teams with their innovative grassroots structure.
The Townsville-based club wants to re-join the A-League in five years time, with the initial aim of fielding sides in the National Youth League and W-League.
As part of their bold vision, Fury have put in place an innovative development model, operating almost a dozen male and female youth teams from Under-12 to Under-20 level, with a clear pathway for local talent to the senior side it hopes will one day compete in the A-League again.
Thirteen players in the current amateur Fury squad, which commenced the new NPL Queensland season earlier this month and trains three times a week, are under 22 with a view to the future and A-League inclusion.
Ferguson, who was the inaugural North Queensland Fury coach in the 2009-10 season, said the club had learnt many lessons from its A-League days, which it applied to its current model with a view to sustainability.
“The great thing here is we put this structure in place and we’re probably ahead of a few teams in the A-League,” Ferguson said.
“When I first went to North Queensland Fury (in 2009), there was nothing underpinning the club itself.
“Fury was just set up and everything else had to be organised in time. This time the club’s doing it right, going for the grassroots.
“To be honest, if we were offered an A-League position tomorrow, we wouldn’t be able to do it.
“We’re doing it right this time and putting the steps in place to make sure when it does come we can sustain it.
“We’ve got to make sure when it does come, it’s done right. It wasn’t done right last time.”
While Fury were hastily admitted to the A-League in 2009 by the FFA as an integral part of their World Cup bid, there’s no such rush this time.
Ferguson along with Northern Fury chairman Rabieh Krayem met with FFA boss David Gallop and A-League head Damien de Bohun in Sydney in January to outline their vision.
The former Perth Glory coach said the meeting was very positive and the club had since put forward a formal proposal.
However, at this stage no decisions have been made on their NYL or W-League proposal with the direction of both competitions being reviewed by the FFA due to financial concerns.
“They know we’re doing the right things this time, we’re following the National Curriculum, we’re getting elite coaches, so everything’s very positive,” Ferguson said.
“The meeting was great with David Gallop and Damien de Bohun. They gave us a fair hearing. They were very complimentary to the club.”
Ferguson may have admitted the club were not close to being ready to be part of the A-League, but felt they had the structure in place now for the NYL.
“I do know, if we got the opportunity at this moment we’d be ready to take the step-up,” Ferguson said.
“But if we can get the NYL and W-League teams in two or three years down the line then so be it, as it’ll put us in a better position then trying to rush into it.”
The North Queensland region has provided plenty of top-line footballers including Frank Farina, Steve Corica, Michael Thwaite and Shane Stefanutto. Ferguson felt it was important that talent in the region was given a chance to thrive.
“We can’t ignore this part of the world, it’s such a massive part,” he said. “It takes in a huge area from Mackay up to Cairns and also Rockhampton. These kids need to aspire, have somewhere to play and have a pathway.
“We’ve got that now from Under-12s up, and the bigger picture is the NYL and W-League teams.”
On a personal level, Ferguson admitted it was great being back in Townsville, but said it had been a busy six months since taking the job, getting coaches and players in, venues organised and the programme set up.
He added: “It’s been all systems go. I’ve hardly any time to settle down and enjoy the sunshine!”