NEARLY 750 touch footballers will contest the inaugural Northern Eagles Junior Championships to be played at Taree Recreation Centre this weekend.
There will 10 boys and girls divisions decided from under 10s to 18s. Taree Touch will be represented in every grade.
Taree Flames, Macksville Falcons, Port Macquarie Makos, Forster-Tuncurry Tornadoes, Ballina Bullsharks, Singleton Storm, Newcastle City, Parramatta and Peninsula from the Central Coast will send sides, even though some are from outside the Northern Eagles area.
Taree Touch will host the tournament with Northern Eagles in charge of the competition structure. In previous years Taree Touch has held a gala day on this weekend.
In all 108 games will be played tomorrow starting at 8.30am and concluding at 4.30pm with 48 matches on the Sunday from 8.30am. These will lead into grand finals with the program concluding at 1pm. The champion Northern Eagles affiliate will be recognised during the presentation.
Sixteen selectors will use matches in the 14,16 and 18s as a guide to name Northern Eagles teams to play in the NSW Junior Regional Championships hosted by Penrith on Saturday and Sunday April 28/29. Development squads have been training since October 8.
“The championships are an extension of our commitment to junior touch development within the region,” Northern Eagles assistant regional director and Taree Touch secretary Matt Nelson said.
Some 60 referees from across NSW will officiate the 156 games and some will be seeking level upgrades.
“With eight to nine games per time slot on the Saturday they will be busy,’’ Mr Nelson said.
He said Northern Eagles will have a referee panel from affiliates across the region and they are working very hard on referee development.
“There is a level two course for referees on Friday night, with some junior referees working towards upgrades before the Junior State Cup in February.’’
Mr Nelson added the fields at Taree Recreation Centre are in great order for the weekend thanks to assistance from MidCoast Council.
Teams will also use the championships as preparation for the State Junior Cup to be played at Port Macquarie, where Taree will again send 10 teams.
This will be the biggest touch football tournament to be held in Taree since the State Cup was held here in 1986. Taree Touch hopes to host the championships for the next three years.