Thursday, July 18, 2024
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All go for the juniors

Close to 1200 kids will swarm onto Masterton’s Park Sports Ground today and tomorrow for the popular WBS Douglas Villa Junior Tournament, one of the biggest junior tournaments in the lower North Island.

Eighty-six teams representing 18 clubs from Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley, and Wellington, as well as about a dozen local teams, will play in more than 170 games over the two days.

Organiser Dave Pawson said this year is the first in four years that numbers have approached pre-covid-19 levels. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 tournament, while the 2020 edition, which was played with about one-third of the usual numbers.

Last year was a rebuilding phase for the tournament, and the club was thrilled with the response, with 71 teams taking part, although the teams and spectators had to endure rain and mud.

The tournament has become a popular fixture on the junior football calendar and a major fundraiser for the Douglas Villa club. Many teams use it as their end-of-year trip away, but it is a far cry from when it started as an exchange with another club in the mid-1980s.

Pawson said the tournament was originally a two-day exchange with Raumati Hearts [now part of Kapiti Coast United] and was established to give the children a fun way to finish the season.

The teams initially played on Saturday and again on Sunday, but after a couple of years, Douglas Villa began to get inquiries from other clubs, so they turned it into a tournament.

However, it has not always been plain sailing, and the tournament had a break for a few years in the early 2000s before it was revived in 2009, getting more than 100 teams at its peak.

All teams are guaranteed four games, all of which are played in 12-minute halves.

The ninth, 11th and 13th grades take the field today, with the eighth, 10th, 12th, and the combined 14-15 grades playing tomorrow.

The weather forecast for the two days is looking promising, with fresh westerly winds, although there could be some showers tomorrow.

Play starts at 9.30am today and 10 am tomorrow. The semifinals will be played from about 3pm, and the finals start at about 3.30pm.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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