Pandemic pain, but CPL the path to progress

Photo courtesy of the Macleay Argus

Macleay Valley Rangers supremo Ashley Williams relishes life in the fast lane – and believes the Coastal Premier League is without a ceiling after somehow pushing through the dreadnought of a year that has been 2020.

The Rangers president is well credentialled to make the call – in his sixth year at the helm of the powerhouse, while his charges are fast closing on the top prize in the South Conference.

Like many, he was “a little disappointed” that NSW COVID regulations forced an early end to the combined 10-team format – but stressed the local football authorities did the best that they could with the ever-shifting goalposts.

“It is what it is, and we’re very pleased with how the boys are going now,” Ashley said.

“We’re certainly looking forward to next year, whatever that may look like. The average age of our firsts would be in the low 20s, so we believe there will be more good times ahead if the boys stick together.”

Ashley said while the current season had challenged all clubs, “the positives outweigh the negatives”.

“Player numbers, as expected, are down slightly. But everyone has been able to enjoy a decent kick around,” he said.

Ashley is adamant that the CPL concept needs to continue for the sake of the game at the top level on the North Coast.

“We need to be playing in that. And we’re pushing for women to be part of that. The format is a real positive for the game.”

While the Rangers have enjoyed a dynasty in recent times in Football Mid North Coast competition, Ashley said the ask of playing North Coast Football club sides in the CPL lifted everyone.

“It was exciting because you just didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Ashley said there is a halo effect for juniors when they see their club contesting the CPL.

“It gives them something to aspire to. You’ll get kids thinking that in three or four years, that could be us in first grade,” he said.

Case in point, the Rangers president watched with delight as “10 players from the 16 years debuted in reserve grade”.

One can but wonder how Ashley finds the time to notice much of anything, let alone the pleasing progression of the club’s juniors.

As well as serving as Rangers president, he’s a councillor for Kempsey Shire, runs his own business (a trophy shop), oh, and has four children aged from five to 13.

Think about that.

“I’m one of those silly people who just keeps adding things to my life. But actually, I love it, and (football) it’s a family thing,” he said.

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