Forget summer, football season is here
THE start of the North Coast Football season might be six weeks away but the first ball to be kicked this year will be today.
The dream of a local team being able to take on one of the Hyundai A-League clubs later this year, begins this afternoon with the opening round of the FFA Cup.
Both the Northern Storm and Coffs Coast Tigers are headed north today for their first round matches.
The Tigers face last season's wooden spooners Grafton United at Rushforth Park but prior to that match, in a double header, the Storm faces Maclean.
The Storm has appointed Jade Porter and Mark Drew as co-coaches for 2018 and the Korora club has been buoyed by the off-season acquisitions of Matt Parkins, Sam Brown and keeper Josh Harrington.
Add to that trio the returning Tristan Albert, Beajay Wendt and Grant Scully and the Northern Storm is feeling confident about its chances of climbing the table this year.
While today's fixture will be a chance for the Storm to test new combinations, Porter and Drew know the priority is keeping a quality squad for the entire season.
"With several players returning from injury and lengthy breaks, the focus for the Storm has so far been fitness and not risking early injuries," Porter said.
Half a dozen premier league teams have been given a bye today but will play in the second round to be played in a fortnight.
Today at Rushforth Park, Grafton
Game 1 - 2pm: Maclean v Northern Storm
Game 2 - 4pm: Grafton United v Coffs Coast Tigers
Orara Valley v Boambee
Urunga v Westlawn Tigers
Sawtell v Coffs United
Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 2