Where have all the Queenslanders gone?
When Matt McKay used to lead Brisbane Roar onto Suncorp Stadium, local fans loved it not just because of the player he was, but because he was one of them.
A local boy made good, McKay grew up plying his trade in the local junior leagues before eventually getting his big break with the Brisbane Strikers in the old NSL. When the NSL folded he simply went back to the local competition and waited for another chance.
From the start of the A-League era he was a fan favourite - someone to identify with. The kids in those horrid orange and blue shirts could think to themselves: ''If he can do it, then so can I.'' It's exciting to think he might be coming back.
Tommy Oar, Robbie Kruse, Michael Zullo, Mitch Nichols and Adam Sarota are just some of the other local juniors who have made their way to the leagues of Europe, and/or full international honours, via local state league clubs and the Brisbane Roar. For up and coming players in the region, they're shining examples of what can be achieved. I reckon we're in the midst of a golden era for Queensland talent based on the number of players we've got in the various national teams.
Now, I understand assembling an A-League squad is no easy task and recruiting is one of the great challenges for any coach and football department. Salary caps and squad numbers are limited and therefore so are opportunities.
But I think the question that needs to be asked every time is: ''If someone isn’t deemed good enough for another club, then why is he good enough for mine?''
Recently the Roar have filled two of these precious spots with Dimitri Petratos and Diogo Ferreira, who hail from Sydney and Melbourne respectively. I have nothing against either of these young men and have found them both to be nothing but professional and easy to deal with. It’s also true they're both players who have shown they have the ability to play at the A- League level.
But my concern is if they weren’t good enough for Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, then why are they good enough for the Roar? They've come in while James Meyer, a Queenslander, is off to ply his trade in India because he's been deemed surplus to requirements. I would argue Meyer's impact on the competition - although limited through injury - has been as great, if not greater, than either Petratos or Ferriera.
Hopefully this isn’t another example of Brisbane looking elsewhere instead of in their own back yard.
How the club was ever allowed to sign Japanese defender Yuji Takahashi and Korean winger Do Dong-hyun last season (both have since moved on) remains a mystery. Imagine if they had developed their young careers in Brisbane and then scored the goal against the Socceroos that knocked us out of a World Cup?
Now before I’m run out of Brisbane, let me also add that the Roar certainly aren’t alone in this regard.
When you have an opportunity, take a quick look through the list of players who have swapped clubs and the journeyman foreigners who have been signed by your club.
Is it not just possible a potential new McKay, or Connor Pain, or Aziz Behich, is being denied his chance by one of these signings?
Here in Queensland, we're a parochial bunch. As the inaugural NPL season draws to a close (Olympic FC have recently being crowned champions), there's real hope that this competition - along with the arguably stronger Brisbane Premier League - will become the breeding ground for future local stars.
Just this week two promising young local players, Josh South (Moreton Bay Jets) and Darcy McCormack (Far North Queensland Heat), have secured contracts with Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC respectively. Ask regular watchers of these competitions, and they'll be quick to tell you the talent is there. What these players need is opportunity. Surely that opportunity should come in the orange and black.