It's official: The Southern Tablelands Football Association has joined with new A-League side Macarthur FC.
The announcement of the new MoU signing broke on Monday, July 27, following months of discussions between the two organisations.
STFA director, Craig Norris, said he was "really excited" about the announcement, and said it all began with a "random" email he sent to Macarthur FC.
"They're new guys in the region, and I sent an open-ended email and it started from there. They said 'We'd like to talk', we had a few phone conversations, and a couple of cups of coffee, and here we are."
The new partnership, Norris hopes, will benefit the STFA both at a representative level and a grassroots level.
"The kids have a clearer pathway to A-League and W-League football," he said.
"Kids need somewhere to identify, a lot of other codes have clear pathways. Being able to identify ourselves with Macarthur will keep us in the game. I hope it'll keep some of the talented kids in Goulburn even longer without having to go to Canberra.
"Macarthur also has a plan for a schools program, and they talked about setting up a hub here where our coaches, players, and admin will get support and training."
Three other associations are aligned with Macarthur FC - Macarthur Football Association, Southern Districts Football Association and Bankstown Amateur Football Association - and Norris hopes the STFA's addition will build bonds between said organisations.
In a statement, Macarthur FC chairman, Gino Marra, welcomed the STFA and said one of the primary focuses of the organisation was the development of the women's game.
"This MOU is an important step for the future growth of the game in our region," Marra said.
"We know collaboration, consultation and engagement are the key components to develop and inspire the next generation of players. We are thrilled to welcome Southern Tablelands Football Association to the Bulls family.
"The largest growth area of football, not only in our community, but across the country, is female participation. It is imperative for us, as a club, to develop further programs that enhance female participation across all areas in the game, especially in the lead up to the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023."
With the recent announcement from the Goulburn Mulwaree Council that it will allocate more than $500,000 for an amenities block at Cookbundoon, Norris said that all of the STFA committee's years of hard work are finally starting to pay off.
"[Joining Macarthur FC has] been the biggest thing I've been involved with in the game," he said.
"It's been a lot of hard work and results seem to be coming thick and fast which is nice. A lot of people have worked tirelessly over a lot of years and hit brick walls.
"We're still pinching ourselves and saying 'Is this really happening?'"
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