THE Sunshine Coast Fire's 2014 championship hopes have been bolstered by significant numbers at training. Sixty players from around the country are vying for a position in the team as hopeful recruits - primarily former Queensland Premier League and Brisbane Premier League players - flock to the Coast from as far afield as Townsville and Ballarat. Fire coach Kevin A'Herne-Evans cites the club's past success as the main drawing card for many players keen to build their careers at the Coast club.
"They identify us as one of the big clubs in the comp and want to be a part of our set-up," he said. "When players contact you and say, 'I want to come to your club', they come here hungry and with something to prove." High achievement has been part of the Fire's DNA since its entry into the Queensland State League in 2008 and its premiership and championship double in that year. The club took the double again in 2010, won the 2012 grand final and finished third in 2013.
Although last year's result would be considered a successful season by most clubs' standards, A'Herne-Evans begged to differ and declared the campaign a failure. "We want to win every year and make no apologies about it," he said. "A lot of teams would see that as an acceptable campaign, but by the standards we have set ourselves in the past and what we strive for every year, it was not good enough."
THE Fire's depth in season 2013 was tested at several stages including their 2-0 extra-time loss to Brisbane City in an elimination semi-final. "The semis last year, we ran out of numbers and were putting 16 and 17-year-olds on," A'Herne-Evans said. The Fire hopes to avoid such woes in 2014 and if the turnout at training is anything go by, the coaching staff will be confident of covering injuries and suspensions. Also, with extra players brings more competition - something A'Herne-Evans has thoroughly enjoyed witnessing.
"Numbers are up to 60 plus for the majority of the sessions, so we have plenty to choose from," he said. "It actually spurs on the players you have already. "Competition for places will be a lot stronger next year (in 2014) than what they were this year (2013)."
The Fire is hoping to use its imported player quota to bring in two Japanese players from the Japanese Premier League.
The Fire will resume training on January 13.
Sunshine Coast Daily