Pride is a crucial component in the world game and Preston Lions are busy at work restoring theirs after years in the soccer wilderness.

The club, based in Reservoir, played in the now defunct National Soccer League for more than a decade, and then the Victorian Premier League until 2009.

Since then the club has struggled both on and off the field, and successive poor seasons have relegated it to Division 2 North-West, two divisions away from the top flight.

Crippling debt – about $200,000 – also meant the Lions had to work with the Australian Taxation Office on a payment plan. But the debt, inherited from the past decade, has been reduced to under $40,000, largely through community donations and fund-raisers. A new executive committee has reinvigorated the club and president Zoran Trajceski says the rebuilding process is well under way.

“Last year we brought in a new sub-committee and started to reorganise the club from the bottom,” he says.

One of the ways Preston plans to restore its name is through a big focus on junior soccer. Last year the Lions had only four junior teams, when in previous years it had had as many as 15.

The club will hold a junior registration day on February 10 at its home ground B.T. Connor Reserve from 10am – with a Melbourne Heart player in attendance – and hopes it will be the start of a fruitful period.

“We want to bring the club to the highest position we can and the most important thing for us is the juniors,” Trajceski says.

Involved for more than two decades as a player, administrator and coach, Trajceski says he can feel the club’s mood changing.

“We are going to bring back this club.”

As published in the Northern Weekly