BUDDING Warrnambool soccer players are preparing for a special skills session with a former Australian representative.
Archie Thompson, who was capped 54 times and kicked 28 goals for the Socceroos, will run a clinic for Warrnambool Rangers' juniors at Jones Oval on Saturday.
The former A-League champion - he played 224 matches for Melbourne Victory in a decorated career - will also feature in the club's first sportsman's night, to be held that night at City Memorial Bowls Club.
Warrnambool Rangers president Cam Pyke said the club was rapt to have someone of Thompson's calibre as part of the special night.
The sportsman's night is open to anyone and will be a major fundraiser for the Rangers, who play in both the Ballarat and District Soccer Association and South West Victoria Football Association.
Pyke said it was good timing with the Socceroos recently qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Matildas "continuing to be dominant".
"It will be a bit of a Q&A with Archie and we'll have a raffle with some memorabilia and hopefully it will be a good night, not just for our club, but the football community in the south west," Pyke said.
"There's still tickets available. We don't have a cap on it. We want to get as many people there as we can, not just to experience and listen to Archie and his story, but also to bring in people from the wider football community who might not play for a club, who might not be affiliated with anyone but who might follow the A-League or have an interest in the Socceroos.
"I don't think there's been anything like this in Warrnambool for soccer."
Warrnambool scored wins in both the men's and women's BDSA competitions on Sunday.
The men defeated Maryborough 14-3 while the women trounced Maryborough 12-0.
Pyke, who coaches the men's side, said it had a chance mix up its line-up.
"You don't get those results everyday," he said.
"We want to play our best football every week, no matter who the opposition is, and there was some good signs out of the game.
"We didn't lose our structure or shape, hence we put a few goals past them.
"We tried a few things out for the second part of the season. We tried a different formation, just to counter some of the opponents we've come up against (and might face in playoffs).
"Something I have always harped onto the boys about is we need to be adaptable in the middle or a game or pre-game."
The Rangers will play Forest in Ballarat this weekend on its new pitch.
COVID-19 interruptions last year denied Rangers a chance to test itself on the top-quality surface.
"Most of the facilities in Ballarat now are almost like playing on carpet and it allows teams to play good football," he said.
"It's what we thrive on when we play a good-quality pitch, it brings out the best in us."
Pyke said Rangers would like to improve their facilities in the future.
"Jones Oval has always been a footy (Australian Rules) ground with a cricket pitch in the middle and it's always going be to not suited for soccer," he said.
"We are working with the right people to hopefully get something in the pipeline but at the moment we just have to make do."
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