A collection of some of the best youth community football teams from across NNSWF’s seven member zones have descended on Coffs Harbour as the 2023 Champion of Champions event got underway at the spectacular Coffs Coast Synthetics facility on Tuesday.
The girls tournament kicked off the week with under-12s, under-13/14s and under-15/16s divisions.
There was some spectacular football contested across day one as the talented young female players battled warm, and at times, windy conditions. Defence was clearly a focus leading into the tournament, with 18 clean sheets kept across the first 16 games.
Under-12s Girls: Northern Storm start strongest with two clean sheet victories.
All four under-12s girls teams lined up for a game each in the morning and another during the afternoon with Northern Storm FC emerging as the team to beat.
The North Coast Football side are yet to concede a goal and they finished the day on top of the ladder following a 2-0 win against Tilligerry United FC and then a 1-0 victory against Kahibah FC. Reef Winkler scored the first goal in the under-12s division when she put her side ahead against Tilligerry.
Kahibah and Byron Bay FC battled out a hard-fought 0-0 draw in the morning and then Byron Bay went down 3-2 against Tilligerry in the highest-scoring game in the division so far.
The under-12s girls sides have an even more action-packed day on Wednesday when they each contest three matches each during day two of the tournament – a perfect opportunity to cement a spot in Thursday’s grand final.
Under-13/14s Girls: Nikki nets the tournament opener and close contests ensue.
The under-13/14s division kicked off the tournament with two nail-biting contests.
Tintenbar East Ballina FC under-14s gun Nikki Settree scored the opening goal of the tournament after 15 minutes of play on Tuesday morning. Settree ran onto a perfectly weighted through ball in behind the Northern Storm FC under-14s defence and slotted a one-on-one strike from just inside the 18-yard box into the back of the net.
That goal separated the sides at full-time as Tintenbar East Ballina held on to edge out Northern Storm 1-0. The other match was won 1-0 by Byron Bay FC’s under-14s team over Stockton FC’s under-13s side.
All six teams took the field simultaneously later in the morning as Sawtell FC’s under-14s team and Port United FC under-13s outfit got their first taste of the tournament. Sawtell went down 2-0 against Tintenbar East Ballina while Port United contested a 0-0 draw with Stockton. The other game was won 4-1 by Byron Bay over Northern Storm in what was the highest-scoring game in the division throughout day one.
Port United and Sawtell were hoping to have saved their best until last when they met in the 16th and final match of the tournament’s opening day. Port United won the game 1-0 to finish the day as the top-ranked under-13s team.
All of day one’s results saw Byron Bay, Tintenbar East Ballina and Port United finish the day unbeaten in first, second and third, respectively, setting up a mouth-watering second day that sees the tabler leaders challenge the two sides just below them.
With that in mind and Stockton, Sawtell and Northern Storm all going in search of their first wins, an exciting day two is certainly expected.
Under-15/16s Girls: Eight clean sheets in six games – the defences are on fire!
After getting a chance to watch the younger teams in action earlier in the morning, the under-15/16s teams were ready to go and all six of them lined up ready to make an early impact on Tuesday.
The Coffs City United FC under-16s were the only team to score a goal across the three games. It was a special goal, as one of the standout players on day one, Media Khalaf, received a pass just outside the 18-yard box and made a dazzling run past three defenders before picking out the bottom left corner with a powerful strike.
The goal gave Coffs City a 1-0 lead over Maitland FC’s under-15s team, which was the way the score remained at full-time. The all-under-16s match between Sawtell FC and Bellingen FC and the all-under-15s match between Cooks Hill United FC and Garden Suburb FC were both scoreless draws.
The three sides all lined up again later in the day and Coffs City scored another victory as they downed Garden Suburb 2-1. The younger of the two sides led 1-0 at the break after Emily Chapman scored their first goal of the tournament in the 17th minute, but the Coffs girls came home strong as they fired home two goals before the half-hour-mark and held on to win by a goal.
Bellingen won their first game of the tournament as they edged out Maitland 1-0. Isla McGovern scored the winner with just two minutes remaining.
The other match was another scoreless draw between Sawtell and Cooks Hill, who both finished day one having neither scored or conceded a goal.
Four under-15/16s teams now head into day two determined to continue their unbeaten runs. Four teams are also searching for their first wins, three will be looking to put away their first goal of the tournament and three are hoping to continue their run of clean sheets. With all that on the line and so much still to play for, expect an entertaining day two from the tournament’s most experienced teams.
Explainer: How the Champion of Champions works
The Northern NSW Football Champion of Champions tournament brings together the best youth community football teams from across our seven Member Zones top competitions, to challenge for the title of Champion of Champions in their age group!
In a change to previous formats, in 2023 all clubs are invited to enter any teams currently competing in their Member Zone’s top division and challenge for the title of Champion of Champions.
The final format, number of competing teams and age groups are finalised and advised once all registrations have been received.
More about the 2023 Champion of Champions tournament can be found HERE.
Key Champion of Champions Information:
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