Grant MacDonald has vivid memories of A-League star Nathaniel Atkinson playing in the Launceston Tournament.
"I refereed an under-10 final when he was a gun midfielder playing for a rep team against South Hobart," he said.
"It was a cracker of a game. You could see then he was going to be special."
The same tournament that helped the Riverside talent reach Australia's national league and under-23 side has just wrapped up its 29th edition.
After four years as treasurer and three as vice-president, MacDonald has stepped up to relieve Dale Rigby from his 11-year commitment as Northern Tasmanian Junior Soccer Association president, with Atkinson's grandmother Felicity also in her fifth year as secretary.
Gazing out across a Churchill Park headquarters hosting 80 teams featuring 1200 players from under-nine to under-16, MacDonald said Tasmania's largest soccer venue and tournament continue to serve a dual purpose.
"We're a participation sport but also an elite pathway and want to continue to provide opportunities for both," he said.
"Young Nathaniel is proof that you can go all the way and there are a lot of other kids showing the same ability that could achieve as much if they have the same work ethic including hopefully some future Matildas.
"We provide that pathway if that's the way they want to go but also on Saturdays we go down to division three to provide the opportunity for any kids that just want to play soccer with their friends."
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