Clubman keen to help Caloundra put Fire out
FOOTBALL: Caloundra foundation player Ray Schultz's clubmanship should be the admiration of every club and may be the catalyst for his side's entry into the FFA Cup and beyond.
As a model player, teammate and junior coach, Schultz is made of the stuff all clubs yearn for.
Schultz was a Shelley Park junior until under-11s when the club switched its name to Caloundra more than a decade ago.
Schultz began playing senior football for Caloundra at 14 at the insistence of then Sunshine Coast Football director of coaching and Caloundra president Scott Grimshaw after gaining selection in the under-14 Queensland side. His stunning play for Queensland led to his inclusion in the Australian honorary 11, the country's highest honour for that age group, due to the unavailability of international fixtures.
Shultz, now 24, represented Queensland for the next two years while continuing to play for his beloved Eagles before claiming the Premiership-Championship double with the Sunshine Coast Fire in 2010.
However, the demands of semi-professional football took its toll on the self-employed painter who decided one season in the state league was enough.
"Training three times a week plus the travel every weekend got a bit too much in the end," Schultz said.
"I enjoyed it and I got a lot out of my time there but I have no regrets leaving the Fire."
A return to Caloundra ensued where Schultz has continued to be an integral part of the club's resurgence.
Schultz said he hoped to spark the club's return to its glory days.
"We were at a very high level when I was about 14 and it has hit rock bottom since then," he said.
"It is slowly starting to build up and being here since I was a kid makes that very pleasing."
The rebuilding process is reaping rewards as evidenced in the side's seven-game winning streak including three Johnny Warren Cup fixtures (pre-season competition), three Football Queensland Cup games as well as the season opener in the McDonald's premier men's competition before losing last week's second round match-up against Buderim 4-3.
Pre-season form aside, Schultz is not coy in assessing his team's monumental task ahead in their quest to gain entry into the FFA Cup.
He knows his side must produce an outstanding performance to be any hope of beating the Sunshine Coast Fire in the fourth and final round of the Football Queensland Cup to be played on April 23.
"I think we can be competitive and that's realistic for the way we playing at the moment," he said.
"There's no pressure on us and they are expected to win and that can play into our hands."
Caloundra coach Richard Hudson described Schultz as a model player who led by example.
"He's a skilful player but he's a great guy as well," he said.
"He coaches the Caloundra under-13 side and gives back and is a great bloke to have around the place."
SUNSHINE COAST FIRE v CALOUNDRA
Wednesday April 23, Stockland Sunshine Coast Stadium, 7pm