A record 158 teams contested the annual Viking Challenge at North Tuncurry Sporting Complex across the weekend of March 3 and 4.
Teams came from across the State to compete in the open men, open women, over 35 men and over 30 women divisions.
Every side played in three matches on the first day of the competition as they vied to finish on top of their pools.
Over 240 matches were played on the Saturday in beautiful and sunny conditions.
At the end of the day, the teams where sorted into their divisions: A, B and C for both men and women.
The A teams competed for the title of ‘Viking Challenge Champions’.
Sunday presented another very warm day as the players began the knockout phase of the competition.
The games became super competitive, especially in A Division, with 16 teams in both men’s and women’s needing to come down to two. The women’s A final was played between Navy and the Why Nots.
Both of these sides are regular competitors at the challenge.
A cracking goal smashed in from the sideline by the Why Nots opened the scoring early in the match.
Navy responded and the match developed into an end-to-end struggle.
The sides were evenly matched and it remained very balanced until the Why Nots scored their second.
They held the lead until the final hooter.
The level of skill, fitness and determination displayed by both teams shows why female football is the fastest growing sport and bodes well for the future of women’s football.
The men’s final was between previous winners and long time participants, Dubbo Bulls and Curly Boys, who also have competed before under other names.
Both had played very strongly and were dominant over the weekend.
Dubbo were under the pump from the first whistle.
The ball movement and off the ball player movement of the Curly Boys often left the Bulls grasping at air.
The Curly Boys took an early lead with an absolutely cracking goal.
They continued the match in exactly the same mode and extended their lead to four goals.
Much to their credit, the Bulls were able to pull one goal back.
The Curly Boys ended up running out convincing winners 5-1.
Fitness was also clearly a factor in the match. This match also saw the first ever hat trick in a men’s A final.
A good-sized crowd watched both finals as rain had closed in on the complex.
Great Lakes United Football Club would like to thank and recognise the people that assisted over the weekend.
The fabulous Pink Ladies who manned the canteen, the Rural Fire Service (Tuncurry) for controlling the parking, our ‘barbecue kings’, Coastal Evangelical Church for looking after the bellies of our competitors, the Tuncurry Sporties for giving us access to extra parking, MidCoast Council for their invaluable assistance, Forster Tuncurry Hawks, Forster Tuncurry Touch and Forster Tuncurry Dolphins.
Allowing the club access is very much appreciated.
Finally our club itself, the committee and all of the club volunteers that worked extremely hard to put on this event. Lakeside Tavern, thank you for your support and for hosting Saturday night.