The desire to provide a senior team for its juniors to progress into is behind Westside Strikers’ decision to field senior teams this season.

The club, which was formed in 2015, has been just a junior club until now, but with the club and the sport growing, club officials were thrilled to take the next step.

President Sam Raniolo said it was an exciting time for the club.

“We’ve got a lot of juniors especially in the 16 to 18-year-old age group,” he said. “We need to have a pathway for these players and the only way to do that is to have a senior team.

“There’s been a lot of expressions of interest and the parents of the kids who are in the 15s, 16s and 18s are excited about it, as they don’t have to move clubs.”

Raniolo said they had put a lot of hard work to get to the point of fielding senior sides.

He said they hoped to add a senior women’s team either this year, or in the next couple of years.

“We’ve gone from 200 odd kids to about 380 kids last year,” he said.

“FFV and Melton Council has been really good in helping us get it up and going.”

The Strikers will play in the FFV state league 5 west competition.

Raniolo said they would also have a reserves side and would consider a masters side too.

Zoran Kitanovski, who previously coached Brimbank Stallions, has been named senior coach. He led the Stallions to promotion in 2016 from state league 4 to state league three, and coached the side for most of last season before he and the club parted ways. The club again earned promotion.

Jose Groba (senior assistant) and Salih Soze (reserves coach) also come to the club having been at Brimbank Stallions along with Kitanovski.

Raniolo said the coaching team would bring a lot of knowledge with them.

Despite fielding a side for the first time, the president said they weren’t just planning on making up the numbers.

“Hopefully we can get promoted in the first season,” he said. “We want to be the biggest club in Melbourne’s west.”

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