Winning formula for indigenous footy comp

CUDGEN Rugby League Club's Ned Byrne Field was a hive of activity yesterday with several thousand people packing the ground for the 38th annual New South Wales Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout competition.

The event, which is also a celebration of indigenous sport, has exceeded organisers' expectations in terms of attendance figures.

Organiser Sol Bellear said from the first day on Friday, which featured the juniors, attendances had broken records.

Mr Bellear said that many teams and their supporters, even if they had been eliminated from the competition, were staying on to enjoy the carnival atmosphere.

The Tweed economy is expected to receive a $1.2 million boost from hosting the event and bring in more than 35,000 people to the area by the time it ends today.

"Usually you will see a drop in numbers as the carnival progresses, but we are still way up on previous years," Mr Bellear said.

"There has been plenty of praise for this event from visiting teams, especially describing the friendliness of the competition.

"There's some intense rivalry on the field, but off it, everyone is really enjoying themselves and the region."

The knockout, which is being televised through the National Indigenous Television Network, had attracted a number of leading players from the National Rugby League with this year's winning team earning the right to host the 2009 knockout.

Despite the Tweed's team being eliminated from the competition, the atmosphere and the manner in which the Kingscliff event has been run has seen many people eager to see it return in the future.

"We have even been approached by some of the sides who wanted to know whether, if they won the competition and found they didn't have the same resources to host the knockout, we would be interested in staging it back here," Mr Bellear said.

"The quality of competition has been very high and there has been a very positive feeling to the carnival; we couldn't be happier."

The action continues at Ned Byrne Field today with the men's semi-finals in the morning followed by grand finals of the under 15s, under 17s, women and then the men's grand final around 3pm.

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