The race to be crowned as Australia's top semi-professional club kicked off today with the launch of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) 2015 season.
The event at Adelaide Shores Football Centre preceded the opening match of the PlayStation 4 NPL South Australia season tonight between reigning NPL Champions of Australia MetroStars SC and last year's PlayStation 4 NPL South Australia champions Croydon Kings.
The PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues spans eight State and Territory competitions, with the premier club of each NPL competition qualifying for the national play-offs in September and October.
Entering its third year, Australia's premier competitions will feature a host of firsts in 2015, the most significant being the first full season that the NPL will be staged under the banner of inaugural naming rights partner PlayStation 4.
This year will also see Hyundai A-League clubs Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City FC field youth teams in their respective competitions, the trio joining Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory as other clubs who already have sides competing in their local leagues.
Adelaide United will have a youth team in Football Federation South Australia's State League, while Melbourne Victory's Youth Team will play in the PlayStation 4 NPL 1 Victoria Eastern Conference, and Melbourne City in the western equivalent. All three clubs will also field Under 20 sides in the respective reserves competitions.
Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers are set to field teams in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW in 2016 while a date is yet to be determined for the Central Coast Mariners.
In Adelaide for the launch, Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop said the PlayStation 4 NPL continued to focus on improving technical development of Australia's elite player pathway.
"The PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues is the engine room of Australian football, producing players and coaches who can aim for the Hyundai A-League and our national teams," said Gallop.
"At the same time, the NPL framework has helped strengthen the clubs by providing guidelines on management and finances."
"The introduction of the Westfield FFA Cup last year adds further impetus to the value of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues, and after PlayStation 4 came on board as the official naming rights partner prior to the national finals series last year, it is certain to further improve the already impressive standard of football at this level and increase its popularity and interest in the season ahead."
"With six of nine Australian based Hyundai A-League clubs now having teams in their respective Member Federation competitions, it is another important step in nurturing young talent in order to produce and uncover the stars of the future."
Having announced the PlayStation 4 partnership in September last year, Managing Director of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia, Michael Ephraim, reinforced the company's passion and dedication to being associated with the National Premier Leagues.
"Football in Australia is on an upward trajectory and we are very excited to partner with the FFA through the inaugural sponsorship of the NPL. We believe this sponsorship will help grow the NPL to assist with the development of a stronger player pathway into the Hyundai A-League," said Ephraim.
"PlayStation 4 is for the passionate players. Those on the field and those off the field with games like FIFA 15. This is why we see this sponsorship as the perfect fit for both partners."
Tonight's PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2015 season opener between Croydon Kings and MetroStars SC kicks off at 7pm ACDT.
Football Federation Northern Territory, who adopts a partial model, is the only Member Federation not currently sitting under the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues umbrella.
The opening round of matches in the other PlayStation 4 NPL competitions around the country will commence on the following dates:
These competitions will culminate in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2015 Finals Series to determine the national champions.