Bellingen FC joins the Coastal Premier League Coffs Coast Sport by News Of The Area - Modern Media - September 28, 2021 Bellingen FC captain Henry Gale, 18-year-old Rowan Juodvalkis and Club President Peter Baron celebrate Bellingen FC’s entry to the Coastal Premier League BELLINGEN FC celebrated their successful application to join the Coastal Premier League (CPL) at their home ground Connell Park last week. The CPL will expand to twelve teams in 2022 and Bellingen’s club captain Henry Gale, who played in the premier league for Urunga for fifteen years, said the football club is ready to take the next step. “For the last couple of seasons we’ve wanted to make the next step up, this year we won division two and we want to challenge ourselves and play in the CPL. “We want to be the team of Bellingen Shire, there’s at least half a dozen players who used to play for Urunga who are keen to play CPL, we have around 28 senior players from Bellingen, two from Dorrigo and two from Nambucca and the numbers are growing. “We also have a lot of young players coming through the ranks, local players like Rowan (Juodvalkis) who played National Premier League in the juniors who want to play for their hometown and at the highest level in the region. “This is a long term plan to grow the club and establish ourselves, it’s going to be great for the town and Bellingen Shire. “We’ve been getting three hundred supporters at some of our home games so that will likely increase for CPL games, especially on market days, Bellingen is a nice place to visit so hopefully the other clubs and their supporters will enjoy coming to Connell Park and visiting the town. “We know it’s a big step up in quality and intensity but we’ve been waiting for this, it will be great for the town, we will need to start our preseason early, probably December and we will be announcing our new coaches shortly,” said Henry. Club President Peter Baron said he wants the club to represent the Shire and grow football in the region. “Bellingen FC will be the only CPL football club in Bellingen Shire so we want to represent the Shire and grow football at the club and in the Shire. “Football is very popular in the region so the step up in quality will inspire the juniors to reach for the next level, there’s a great camaraderie at the club, it’s competitive but not cut throat, the seniors help the juniors and want to see them develop and succeed. “I’ve been coaching my son’s team for nine years since the under 9s and now he trains with the seniors and loves it. “We know there are going to be extra demands running CPL teams and we have set up a sub-committee specifically to take care of everything CPL, we know it is a challenge but we are relishing it,” said Peter. 18-year-old Rowan Juodvalkisin played in the National Premier League for North Coast Football as a junior and played in Bellingen’s winning division two team in 2021. “I can’t wait to play CPL, it’s the next step for myself and a lot of the players, there’s so much potential here at the club, it’s really exciting. “I know it’s a step up but you want to challenge yourself as a player, it’s going to be great for football in Bello,” said Rowan. Southern United from the Forster-Tuncurry area are the other new team to join the CPL, expanding the competition from ten to twelve teams in 2022. By David WIGLEY Bellingen FC won Division Two in 2021. Club captain and central defender Henry Gale is looking forward to returning to the top level of football in the region. 18-year-old Rowan Juodvalkis is looking forward to the challenge. Club President Peter Baron.