TOUCH football dominates the conversation among some workers at Valley Industries leading up to game day each Friday.
A Valley Industries side has entered the men's competition at Wingham. They've played two games for a narrow loss followed by a close win.
Former State touch football representative Geoff Pensini is the team organiser. He helps put the side through their paces with the assistance of another support worker, Darren Varty. Sean Darcy, Brady Carney, Nathan Ritter, Mitchell Hoppe, Yanik Faugeras, Jack Shelton and Greg Hile make up the team. Only Nathan and Brady had previous touch footy experience.
Valley Industries play in the Taree twilight cricket competition and it was suggested touch footy would be another sporting outlet.
"A couple of the guys who play twilight now play touch as well,'' Geoff said
"Touch is relatively easy to play, you pick up the ball and run,'' he added, explaining that he and Darren ensure the players run in the right direction.
"They're loving it,'' Geoff said.
"Most have probably watched touch and rugby league for years but didn't have a chance to play. Now they're getting the opportunity. It's all they talk about ... especially on Fridays before the game.''
Geoff described the opposition teams as 'accommodating.'
"We played a team of 15 and 16-year-old boys the other night. They could have run in any number of tries if they wanted,'' he explained.
"But they didn't and we ended up having a great game. I know our blokes enjoyed themselves and couldn't wait to the next week.''
There have been numerous highlights in the two games. Mitch Hoppe marked the team scoring a try with a 'kangaroo ears' celebration just like Latrell Mitchell does.
Mitch, who is also the ball boy for the Taree City Bulls, also produced a near-perfect flick pass in last week's game. Brady Carney was heavily involved in a try the team scored.
Nathan Ritter said he feels at his best when playing either touch footy or twilight and that pretty well sums up the team's attitude.
Geoff added there's been plenty of interaction with opposition players after the game.
"We have a soft drink and a talk to the other players. It's all very inclusive,'' he said.
Geoff said other Valley Industries employees play in the Wingham competition and his players watch their games to cheer on their colleagues.
He explained that a division for players with a disability was included in this year's Vawdon Cup, the premier competition in Sydney.
"Touch Football Australia has launched an all abilities program to provide opportunities for players with a physical and/or intellectual disability,'' he added.
Geoff wonders if touch football could be a summer option for the Rainbow Warriors soccer competition started in Taree last year by Matt Zarb for children with special needs.
However, that's a conversation for another day. There's a match tonight and a game plan to prepare. So that'll take priority.
"That's all my team mates will be talking about all day,'' Geoff said.