Touch footballers set for NZ tour
ROCKHAMPTON'S junior touch footballers are among some of the state's most talented.
Following the recent State Junior Championships in Maryborough, nine players from the under-14 and under-16 boys and girls sides have been selected in the Queensland side.
Tamika Upton and Danielle Munster were selected in the under-14 girls’ team while in the under-16 boys’, Regan Tapsell and James Baartz were named.
Riley Neaton was the lone under-14 boys’ player picked in the Queensland side with Brittany McHugh, Maggie Harris, Kate Bromley and Sharni Upton all selected in the under-16 girls’ team.
The respective state sides will tour New Zealand in late November and will play a number of county sides on the tour.
The Central Queensland under-16 girls team had the most players named of any team at the championships, with coach Greta Doherty surprised the side’s success in terms of selection.
The Central Queensland side lost only one game during the round matches, to the Gold Coast who went through their regular matches undefeated but were beaten by South West in the final.
Finishing fourth, Doherty said the side was hurt by two draws in matches she believes they should have won.
“South West won the carnival and we beat them in the round games,” Perkins said.
“Those games we drew we really should have won and that ruined our chances (of making the grand final),” Perkins said.
Perkins was impressed with the way the girls played at the end of the tournament despite the slow start and was full of praise when it came to the girls that made the Queensland side.
“Brittany McHugh really stepped it up,” she said.
“She went out there and played her best football, while Sharni Upton was an absolute stand-out also.”
Perkins attributes the girls’ performance to the fact that all four currently play in the Rockhampton Touch Association’s A-grade women’s competition.
While the women’s competition is not at its peak, Rockhampton’s future in the sport looks bright.
“There are a lot of young girls in the A-grade competition. I’d guess the average this year is probably 14 or 15,” she said.
“At the moment it’s probably not as strong as it should be, but in the long run it’s going to be a better competition.
“If we can keep these girls involved it’s going to get stronger.”
The biggest surprise came with the selection of Maggie Harris.
Harris suffered an injury early in the championships and was forced out of her normal role in the middle field and onto the wing.
The move proved a success after Harris adapted quickly to the role.
“She’s a really good talker and she probably doesn’t get the chance to show it as much in the middle with all the running she does,” she said.
Perkins will join the girls on their tour of New Zealand as assistant coach and she is expecting all the Queensland sides to face some tough competition from the locals with the Queensland sides competing up an age level due to the structure of the New Zealand competition’s age groups.
“Their style of touch football is a lot different,” said Doherty.
“Their speed and agility is going to be our biggest problem.”
The week-long tour of New Zealand begins on November 23.