Young football stars on show
AUSTRALIA'S most prestigious junior football tournament for boys gets underway at Coffs Harbour's BCU International Stadium today.
The Westfield FFA National Youth Championships will bring together teams from every football state and territory in the nation.
Organisers spent yesterday dodging raindrops to ensure the grounds and amenities are in pristine condition for the huge crowds tipped to roll in all week.
The tournament has been hosted by North Coast Football Zone at the Coffs Coast facility since 2006, with Northern NSW Football securing the rights earlier this year to host the tournament for a further three years from 2012 until 2014.
The stadium facility is of the highest standard and with the support of Coffs Harbour City Council and the resources of the council's sports unit in hosting the event, the tournament has received the highest accolades from all participants since its inaugural year.
More than 400 of Australia's best young male footballers in the under-13 and under-14 divisions will participate in the tournament, with 26 teams from around Australia contesting the two age divisions.
Each age division has two groups, with seven teams in Group A and six teams in Group B.
This year, for the first time, Northern NSW Football will be represented by four teams, two in each age division - Country and Metropolitan.
Northern NSW Country teams are made up of players from the four northern zones - Mid North Coast, North Coast, Far North Coast and Northern Inland - with Metropolitan players originating from the three southern zones of Hunter Valley, Macquarie and Newcastle.
The expanded format allows extra participation from the local association, with six players selected this year.
The championship concludes on Friday, when champions will be decided before facing the selected All Stars squad at 7pm.
A medal presentation will follow.
Following today's 8.30am opening ceremony, the NNSW Country teams will be in action against Tasmania, with the 13s at 10.25am, followed by the 14s at 11.50am.
Entry to all matches is free and open to the public.