Tweed kicking Oztag goals
WHAT began as an off-season game for footy players has blossomed into a sport in its own right, with thousands of Oztag players participating in the Junior State Cup on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
Among them will be five teams from the Tweed - where the sport is catching on in ever-increasing numbers - and who promise to put in a strong showing.
Queensland Oztag sports development officer Brett Tyson said despite being a relatively fresh area for the competition, the Tweed region would be well- represented over the weekend, when 157 teams would be vying for the crown.
More than 2500 boys and girls will participate in age divisions from U10 to U15, with the Tweed fielding sides in the U10s, U12, U14 and U15 boys as well as the U13 girls.
"Junior Oztag is really growing,” Tyson said.
"Probably over the last five years it has grown about 30 per cent every year.
"Our junior database is growing massively and that comes back to the school clinics. We deliver school clinics from as far north as Cairns and as far south as Tweed. We deliver over 9000 clinics a year.”
Tweed Coast co-ordinator Rob Barone said despite being one of the smaller regions, Tweed teams were "really competitive”.
"Tweed are looking pretty strong, our U15 boys and U13 girls are our two strongest teams and made the semi-final and grand final last year and they should be looking to almost win the comp this year,” Barone said.
"And our other teams should at least make quarter finals this year.
"Everyone is really excited, we have been training since November so this will be the end of a lot of hard work.”
More than 8000 people are expected to descend on the Sunshine Coast Stadium this weekend to watch the cup, with players vying for selection in the Queensland Country or Queensland City teams, which will do battle in June in the Oztag Super Series.
Tyson said while the junior season, which kicks off in September, was originally targeted at players in the off-season, it had grown into more.
"Oztag is a sport that doesn't want to affect other sports,” he said.
"When your rugby league, you soccer, you AFL and your union season finishes, this is when Oztag kicks off and it becomes an off-season sport for a lot of kids.
"But in saying that, it's not just an off-season sport.
"The majority of the players at the State Cup this weekend are through and through Oztag players, it is the only sport they play.
"They will play a junior summer season and then when it comes to winter and autumn, they will play in a family mixed division.”