THE Monaro Panthers’ third annual Festival of Football will kick off this weekend bringing more than 300 junior players from across the state to Queanbeyan.
While overall team numbers are expected to be down slightly on last year, about 30 sides from as far afield as Shoalhaven and Young are set to take part in the tournament.
The competition will take place across five grounds: Seiffert, Riverside, Taylor Park, Wright Park and Campese Field over Saturday and Sunday.
This year’s tournament is being dubbed as “the best all-age junior football tournament in Australia” and Panthers president Mauro Davanzo said he was confident the Festival would live up to the billing.
“If you can find a better all-ages junior football tournament for the teams taking part than ours, then I’ll be happy to accept that we’re not the best but I don’t know of any,” he said.
“We’ve had great support from the clubs in our region which is what the Festival is all about; getting clubs together for a fun weekend of football where it’s not about a win at all costs attitude.”
Teams from under-6s to under-18s will compete at the tournament with a majority of participants travelling from inter-state to take part.
This year’s Festival will also see an increase in the number of girl’s sides competing with teams from Shoalhaven and Tuggeranong taking part for the first time.
In an unfortunate piece of timing however, the tournament will clash with the Merimbula Youth Tournament - a factor Davanzo acknowledged could have played a part in the lower than expected team entries.
Davanzo also said the club would need to work more closely with Canberra clubs in future with our neighbours from across the border having so far failed to embrace the concept in its first three years.
“The timing of it is definitely something we’re going to have to look at,” Davanzo said. “We also need to maybe talk to Canberra clubs to find out if there’s a date they would better prefer.
“But from our end, we’ve just got to keep at it every year and eventually it’s going to fit into everyone’s calendars and become part of the landscape.”