FROM Churchill Park to the Gold Coast, Launceston’s junior soccer players are in for their biggest weekend of the year.
Just a few weeks after the end of its winter club season, the Northern Tasmanian Junior Soccer Association is staging the Launceston Tournament, the sport’s largest annual event in the state.
A total of 58 teams from under-10 to under-16 will take part, including eight from the mainland.
At the same time, two of the NTJSA’s representative sides, Justin Dyer’s under-16s and the under-14s coached by Richard Jones, will be heading to Queensland to take part in the Champions Cup, a major mainland tournament involving about 160 teams.
NTJSA president Dale Rigby said the Launceston Tournament has been running for 27 years and its popularity among mainland sides continues to grow.
“It started out as a regional tournament for Tasmania and has just grown from there,” Rigby said.
“We’ve tried to encourage as many mainland teams as possible to be a part of it and this would be the equal most we have had involved.
“A lot of the regions have competed before, enjoyed it and now decided to return with more teams. One team enjoyed it so much they have brought three teams this year and that’s great to see.
“With each team having squads of 14 or 15 plus parents, coaches and helpers, that’s a lot of people visiting Launceston for the weekend.”
Rigby was also delighted to see the tournament being supported by Southern clubs with South Hobart, Olympia, New Town and Taroona all sending teams.
Due to its size, the tournament will be played at two venues, with Launceston United’s Birch Avenue ground hosting games to relieve the pressure on Churchill Park.
Matches begin on Friday night and run throughout Saturday and Sunday.
“The tournament is huge for us. It’s great for our kids to be able to play against the best from other regions,” Rigby said.
“It’s a big job putting it all together but it’s come together well and if the weather stays good we’ll have a great weekend.”
Trophies and medals will be awarded to under-10 to under-13 boys representative and development, under-15 and under-16 boys and under-12, under-15 and under-16 girls.
The under-15 rep team includes (back): Aaron Woods, Jasper King, Vince Wolfhagen, Tamru Midson, Will Compagne, Max Bywaters, Matthew Spanos, coach Justin Dyer, (front) Will Humphrey, Tristan Nast, Jarrod Hill, Charlie Dyer, Sam Gray. Absent: Jackson Radbone and Liam Gilmore.