As a product of the Victorian Premier League, Brisbane Roar’s dynamic right-back Ivan Franjic can speak from experience when explaining the impact local football can have on Australia’s national competition.
Late in 2009, the then-21-year-old was picked from VPL side Oakleigh Cannons by former Roar coach Frank Farina as a short-term injury replacement cover for Andrew Packer.
Franjic adapted quickly and impressively to Hyundai A-League standards, prompting Farina to sign the youngster to a permanent contract, giving him the chance to swap his life as a carpenter for professional football.
The defender is still a regular at Victorian Premier League fixtures when visiting his hometown of Melbourne and with his Brisbane Roar squad in the midst of their pre-season road tour, Franjic emphasised the relevance of the local competition to Hyundai A-League clubs.
“Grassroots football is really important, the state league is where I came from and what we-re doing gives a lot of players a chance to show their talents against the professional clubs,” he said.
“But these pre-season games are just as important for us, testing ourselves against the local clubs gives us a chance to push ourselves and improve as a team.”
Franjic-s early season progress was cut short on Sunday, falling victim to a hamstring tear after stretching for the ball in the pre-season clash against Queensland State League champions Sunshine Coast Fire.
His expected six-week lay-off is not ideal news given the form he displayed in the first few training games – he was arguably Brisbane-s best performer in their 1-0 win over Redlands United, when he also netted the decisive goal from the penalty spot – but Franjic was optimistic.
“It-s not ideal having an injury, but I-m happy it happened now and not during the A-League season,” he said.
“I-ll be out for six weeks but I-ll be working hard to get my fitness back up to scratch as soon as I can and I will definitely be back to full fitness by the start of the season.
“Hopefully this will be my last injury.”