PORT Macquarie will have two shots at national glory when two schools shoot for national touch football success at Caloundra on Wednesday.
St Josephs Regional College 9/10 girls and MacKillop College 9/10 boys teams will represent St Agnes Parish at the national finals on the Sunshine Coast.
Both teams qualified at the NSW All School finals in Sydney earlier this year and they know they are up against it.
Girls coach Damien Kelly said they had five players in the squad that claimed a top four result 12 months ago.
Sarah Stewart, Macey Mccarron, Claire McLaughlin, Chloe Eichmann and Bianca Green will all have important roles to play throughout the three-day competition.
“I hope they can provide that leadership off the field for the girls that haven’t been to this level before,” Kelly said.
“For some of them, it will be the first time they’ll play 40-minute games when the day can start at 7am and go until 6pm so it’s a long day.”
When the girls aren’t running around on a touch football field, they are usually doing likewise around basketball or netball courts or playing oztag.
“I expect us to go pretty well because the girls have got a good core group that have been playing for years,” Kelly said.
“It’s not even touch that they only play; they play everything.”
I think they’ll be competitive and a top 10 finish is what we’re aiming for, but I’d like to think we are a top four side.St Joseph's Regional College 9/10 girls coach Damien Kelly
While half the team are made up of new faces, Kelly still believes they can achieve a top four finish.
“I think they’ll be competitive and a top 10 finish is what we’re aiming for, but I’d like to think we are a top four side,” he said.
“It’s largely a brand new team so it is hard to compare.”
Schools from the northern part of NSW up to the Queensland border and through to the Gold Coast are expected to provide the toughest opposition.
“That south-east corner of Queensland has four million people to choose from so they have a much bigger talent pool,” Kelly said.
“Some of those schools also have touch football academies so they’re studying touch football as a part of their curriculum.
“You just can’t compete with that.”
MacKillop 9/10 boys team manager Cath Eichmann said they were aiming for a top four finish.
It’s the first time MacKillop College has made the nationals in this division so there is a bit of uncertainty there.MacKillop 9/10 boys team manager Cath Eichmann
They have received a boost ahead of the tournament with captain Cody Fisher overcoming injury to take his place in the side.
“It’s the first time MacKillop College has made the nationals in this division so there is a bit of uncertainty there,” Eichmann said.
“Cody is the go-to man because at 15 he’s just made the Port Macquarie under-20 men’s team so for someone that age, it’s a tremendous effort.
“He has played a lot of rep touch and it is great to have him lead the team.”
With NSW and former Australian representative Warren Lorger as coach, the MacKillop side could be the surprise packets.
“They’ve got a strong running game with a lot of speed,” Eichmann said.
“They’re a very well-structured side.”