Ballina blueprint for State Cup success
A RECORD number of teams from Ballina will contest the NSW State Cup Touch Football competition at Port Macquarie this weekend.
The Ballina Touch Association will field nine teams in under-20, open, mixed, over-40s, over- 50s and over-55s divisions for women and men.
Ballina usually punches above its weight at the carnival, with opeb teams making it as far as the semi-finals in previous years.
The open men's side is always competitive with the likes of Caleb Kirchen, Beau Milner, Mitchell Knight and Ben Robinson in the side.
The open women's team can also score plenty of tries with Abbie Beecher, Alice McDonald and Reegan Semmens at the helm.
Ballina Touch Association president Allan Kirchen said it was a proud achievement to be sending so many teams this year.
"This year's contingent is evidence of the growth and depth in our club,” Kirchen said. "As Ballina Touch approaches its 40th year, it's fantastic to be in such a strong position.”
The titles attract more than 250 of the best touch teams from across New South Wales for three days of competition.
Former NRL players Scott Prince and Jamie Soward have taken part in recent years along with Matt Moylan during his time at the Penrith Panthers.
Manly legend Cliff Lyons still plays regularly and is in an over-50s team from Sydney.
Ballina club stalwart Tony Webb has been attending every year for the past 25 years.
"The first year we went down, we didn't even have a full team,” he said.
"We pulled in mates from other clubs and even a guy from the first aid tent.
"Those first few years we were being beaten convincingly by the city clubs, but each year we have gotten better and better and now we're matching it with them.
"State Cup is the highlight of the year. I take great pride in playing with my mates, playing for my town and playing against the city sides, and the night life isn't bad either.”
He said to have Ballina juniors now representing the club at the senior level was just as impressive.
"To have our juniors joining the senior ranks is a wonderful thing,” Webb said. "They compete at the state titles, then bring that level of competition and skill back to our own competition.”