National titles a test for squad

TERRY Kennedy's first appointment as the state coach of the seven-a-side football team for players with disabilities did not quite go the way he wanted but he was still happy with what was achieved.

The Frenchville Club's sport's manager took the team, which included four local players, to Adelaide.

The players had their first run together at Brisbane, where they played a couple of matches against over-35 teams before heading off to the national championship.

The first major surprise came before a ball was kicked. Each player is graded to the severity of their disability and then it is up to each coach to balance his squad to the required levels.

In Adelaide, two of the Queensland players were re-evaluated to a less serious assessment and that changed the characteristic of the team and reduced Kennedy's capacity to rest and substitute players.

First up, Queensland faced the team from New South Wales, which is the strongest state, and after leading twice went down by 3-2.

Victories over Victoria, 10-0 and South Australia, 6-1, kept Queensland on track before it wasagain beaten, after leading, by NSW, this time 2-1.

Kennedy said that left his team needing to beat Victoria to reach the final but unable to rest key players for the must-win match.

They did beat Victoria comfortably but went into the final with NSW without players such as Matt Bell, who had played every minute of every game.

With the seven-a-side matches played for 30 minutes each half, Kennedy knew his players would have to show character to gain the required result. At full time the teams were locked at 1-1 and after 10 minutes each way extra time they still could not be separated.

Unfortunately, the penalty shoot-out did find a winner and that was New South Wales.

Queensland did gain some glory as David Barber was named the player of the tournament.



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