By Rhyan Misner
Monday marked the start of competitive matches in the 2019 McDonald’s Kanga Cup, the largest youth football competition in the Southern Hemisphere. Queanbeyan posed as one of the venues for the third year now and local club Monaro Panthers have helped them with proceedings. 2019 marks another opportunity for the best young talent from various places in Australia and overseas to shine, pitted against many clubs from right here in Canberra.
The dewy grass from the morning was accompanied by nerves and great anticipation at the Wright Park fields of Queanbeyan with matches getting underway at 9am. Field 6 hosted a 10:15 kickoff which with Balmain & District Football Club against Sydney University SFC in the U11 Female Cup. A back and forth game was filled with players that wanted to turn their excitement for the game into goals, and not wanting to come off the field. Sydney University finished 5-0 winners, though it was the first taste of many opportunities for enthusiastic young footballers who want to test themselves against tougher opposition and that was heeded by Balmain coach Andrew Hunter.
“They [SUSFC] were quite skilful, but our girls are used to winning each week in our local competition so it was good to test ourselves and that’s how we get better, you play against better teams and you grow by seeing better players”, Hunter said about the Tournament.
This is the first trip the side have made to the McDonald’s Kanga Cup, just one of the more than 300 teams taking part.
A tournament this big places plenty importance on the setup and making sure everything runs smoothly to benefit all, and this is achieved with the help of local club Monaro Panthers who are responsible for all aspects of the Wright Park fields in Queanbeyan.
Panthers vice president Geoff Young normally coaches a team in the competition but become an integral part of the staff this year at the fields to make sure that the Panthers venue runs effortlessly.
Young is fully aware of the importance of getting setup right, and said it’s imperative that the focus is on the participants.
“Regardless of anything else if we don’t get it right then it’s the kids that miss out so the games have to be played at the right time and everything has to be managed,” he said.
The Wright Park fields are accounting for under 10’s and 11’s for the entirety of the week and teams are travelling here from many different places.
“To see so many clubs here is great for football, great for Canberra, and especially great for Queanbeyan so it’s good from our perspective as a club to host such an event and see so many young players enjoying playing and showcases their abilities over the stretch of a few days,” Young added.
Check out kangacup.com to see you who you can catch playing at Wright Park during the week!