National U18 touch titles

RECORD numbers are expected in Coffs Harbour for the 2004 18 years national championships, being held at Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium from tomorrow until Saturday. Around 800 players, coaches and officials are expected to make the trip to Coffs, with hundreds more spectators following.

A highlight of the tournament will be the national launch of AusTouch; a $275,000 program designed to promote fun and fitness, as well as provide those aged 8-18 years with a link to junior touch football. The official launch will take place at 11am during the opening ceremony of the Championships.

Luke Hartsuyker (Member for Cowper), Keith Rhodes (Coffs Harbour Mayor) and NRL stars Benji Marshall and Joe Williams, will be on hand to help the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Touch Association launch the AusTouch program.

Following previous incredibly successful 18 years Championships and National Championships, turnament director Jon Pratt is excited about the upcoming tournament.

"The Coffs Harbour International Stadium is always prepared brilliantly, the facilities are excellent and the staff are fantastic to work with," Pratt said. "They are instrumental to the tournament's success. "The Coffs Harbour community is also important, the interest, support and atmosphere they provide for our event and for the visitors to their city is excellent.

With a record 41 teams from around Australia attending, Mr Pratt believes the competition will be incredibly strong and an excellent start for the 18 Years and Under Youth World Cup selection process.

The National Championships also double as selection trials for the Australian 18 years and under squads who will be training for the Youth World Cup, being held on the Sunshine Coast in January 2005.



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