Future stars on show at touch football tournament
COUNTRY kids, you don't have to travel too far to be a star.
Touch football's future stars will be on show at Cyril Connell Touch Fields on Saturday as the annual Red Rooster carnival for school-age children taps-off.
Among the crowd will be two of Queensland's top players, Dan Withers and Tamika Upton, both locals who have fine-tuned their craft on the very same fields.
The Queensland pair were recognised for their standout performances in maroon at the Queensland Touch Association's inaugural awards night last weekend.
Upton can now claim to be Queensland's top junior female player, while Withers was crowned Queensland's senior male player of the year.
"These type of awards would typically go to someone from the south- east corner, so it's really good to see Tamika, someone from here, win it," Withers said.
"It's a bigger achievement in a sense because she's not getting the opportunity to play at the same level every week as those in Brisbane."
An Australian men's representative, Withers earned the honour after starring for Queensland in their State of Origin series win over New South Wales.
Captaining the side, he was named player of the series.
On his way to guiding Central Queensland to a state championship last year, Withers was named player of the carnival, while Upton starred for Outlaws Open women's team in the Elite Eight series.
She led Rockhampton to the under-16 Junior State Cup champions title and claimed a player of the finals honour along the way.
The 15-year-old featured in the Central Queensland Bulls under-16 girls state championship-winning team, where she was named player of the series and earned selection in the Queensland team.
Not stopping there, Upton shone for Queensland in the National Youth Cup claiming player of the final honours in the state's win.
Withers was quick to sing her praises.
"I remember three or four years ago walking away from a one-on-one session with Tamika," Withers said.
"I remember thinking to myself 'that girl's going to play for Australia one day'. I have no doubt that she'll find herself in the green and gold."
A humble Withers said he had not thought about the achievement until recently.
"When you actually think about the thousands of people who play touch footy in Queensland, to be named the best men's player is a really special honour," he said.