Two teams of junior touch footballers from Tenterfield stepped out on to the representative field when they took on Northern NSW’s best at a carnival in Ballina.
The Northern Rivers junior touch carnival on Sunday saw thousands of young footballers from the Tweed through to Nambucca Heads and anywhere in between head to the coastal town for the tournament.
Tenterfield took two teams, an under 10s and an under 14s for the first time after previously only taking under 16s and 18s teams.
The under 14s saw four Tenterfield players joined by others from around the coast while the under 10s were solely from Tenterfield.
Keven Mooney coached the sides and said it was the first time they had played the next level of the sport after participating in the local competition.
“It was just a learning experience for everybody,” he said.
“It was the first time for all of them, even the 14-year-olds.
“A lot of them had done it at school but it was actually the first time they had gone away for our local comp.
“Excellent, everybody thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the younger ones – they didn't want to go home and wanted to keep playing.
Excellent, everybody thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the younger ones – they didn't want to go home and wanted to keep playing. I thought they performed exceptionally well, especially the younger ones who, by the end of the competition, knew exactly what they had to do.Keven Mooney
“I thought they performed exceptionally well, especially the younger ones who, by the end of the competition, knew exactly what they had to do.”
Mooney said it was an eye-opener for the kids.
“There would have been a couple of thousand [kids there],” he said.
“It is the only carnival we have in our area for our juniors so it does become pretty big.
“It is used as a selection trial and a warm-up for the junior State Cup.
“A lot of those teams who have numbers use the Ballina carnival as a warm-up for the junior State Cup.”
The learning experience for the young players has already proved beneficial with the players heading back to the local competition with newfound confidence and knowledge.
“Even [Monday] night at our local competition, the ones that were down there, they knew what they had to do,” Mooney said.
“Instead of getting the ball and trying to run around everybody they had to learn to drive and dump for somebody.”
The under 14s players from Tenterfield are also in line to join the Northern NSW representative squads for further selection for higher level teams.
Kynan Koch and Tyler Sargeant also represented Lismore Lizards at the Ballina carnival as a training session for junior State Cup.
Megg Landers was the referee for both teams.
Mooney said the best thing about the sport is the family element.
“It can be a family sport,” he said.
“I am 62 and I am still playing it.
“From 12-year-olds and up you can play in the same team as your parents and enjoy it as a family sport.”