Players keep in touch
By RACHEL GRANT
QUICK stepping NRL players like Benji Marshall are fast making their name in the NRL?but the sport where they were first noticed is hitting Coffs Harbour for its national championships.
123 teams of Australia's leading Touch Footballers are descending on the city for the 2006 National Touch League (NTL) from March 10-18.
The two week tournament sees Australia's leading men's, women's and mixed open touch teams and Under 20 men's and Under 20 women's Touch teams face off in the fight for the National title.
Week two brings many of Australia's past representatives back together, as they fight for National senior titles.
Around 4500 players, officials and spectators are expected to travel to Coffs Harbour for the two week event.
Australia recently confirmed its status as the World's Number One Touch Football nation, when it claimed seven of the ten titles on offer at the All Nation's Championships in New Zealand.
The tournament was a good warm up for the Australian Open and Senior sides heading to South Africa in January 2007 for the World Cup.
Tournament director John Pratt said the 2006 NTL is bringing a record number of teams to Coffs Harbour.
"After the success of the Australian teams at the All Nations Championships and with selection for the 2007 World Cup on the line, the tussle for supremacy is going to bring out the best in all of the athletes," he said.
"We're hoping that the recent rain in the Coffs region will bring the fields up to a great condition and we're sure that Australia's leading players will provide an action packed tournament for all spectators."
The Opening Ceremony will be held at 11am on Friday.
Round matches for the Open divisions and Under 20's begin this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am-7pm each day.
Grand finals in the Open and Under 20's division will be held on Monday from 12:30pm-6pm.
The finals day will have a carnival-like atmosphere, as free entry is encouraging a larger crowd every year and the finals are being taped for viewing on Fox Sports.
The senior divisions will begin competition on Wednesday March 15, with their grand finals on Saturday March 18.