Touching base in Lismore
By STEVE SPINKS
NEW South Wales Touch made a major push into Lismore schools last week in an attempt to re-invigorate the City's flagging junior competition.
The organisation had four development officers attend most of the area's schools to teach youngsters the finer points of the game.
The falling rate of juniors in Lismore has been a concern for NSW Touch and Lismore administrators alike.
Lismore had around 12 junior teams last summer, while neighbouring competition Ballina boasted more than 100.
"We've never really been able to get the juniors going," long-time Lismore Touch administrator and Northern Star Touch columnist Tom Barnsley said.
"We don't want to get as big as Ballina, but we'd like to have at least 30 or 40 teams.
"Juniors are so important in keeping the seniors going."
The lack of juniors is in stark contrast to the Lismore senior competition.
Not only do the seniors have healthy numbers, but the Lismore men's and women's teams won the State titles in Port Macquarie.
It was a stunning result and the first time a country area had defeated the Sydney-based sides.
Barnsley said NSW Touch had recommended Lismore's junior competition run from October to December.
This will shorten the season by four months as the finals are usually conducted in April.
Barnsley hopes the shortened season will help Lismore families to be able to participate in Touch as the season will not be overlapping with winter sport.