There’s a new team with new uniforms gracing the New South Wales State Cup this year, with some very familiar faces.
The red, white and black of Taren Point is now the blue, black and white of the Cronulla Sharks.
Earlier this week NRL club the Cronulla Sharks announced that they were taking NRL pathways to another level in setting up quality structures for both male and female Touch Football players in an exciting new agreement between the Cronulla Sharks and Taren Point Touch Association which will see Cronulla Sharks elite Touch Football teams in all age groups.
The benefits of the relationship are already on show for all to see this weekend, with the two Taren Point teams at this year’s New South Wales State Cup in Port Macquarie now named the Cronulla Sharks, also donning the Sharks uniform.
Sharks NRL squad members Valentine Holmes and Chad Townsend were on hand to launch the pathway on Wednesday at Remondis Stadium, which will culminate in a Cronulla Sharks Touch Academy to commence in April.
Former Australian Men’s Open Touch Football representative, Jason Stanton has been appointed the Cronulla Sharks Touch Football Manager and says he is looking forward to seeing things progress.
“I’m really excited about being involved with the Cronulla Sharks and Taren Point, particularly to see the boys and girls in the Shire have the opportunity to represent the Sharks at the highest level while playing Touch Fooball,” Stanton said.
Cronulla Sharks Board of Director, Darren McConnell, who is also representing the Sharks in the Men’s 40’s division at this weekend’s State Cup, told Sharks TV earlier in the week about the benefits of the relationship.
“It’s a great opportunity and a first in the NRL, so we are leading the way again. I’m really excited about being here as well, as a Board Member and a player, even though my playing days are coming to an end I think,” McConnell said.
“It goes both ways for juniors in development in League, kids may start with tackle and move over to the non-contact version in Touch Football or vice versa. We see great opportunities for men and women, boys and girls, from under 6’s through to over 40’s.”
“We’ve been working on this partnership for a number of years, it’s been a while in the making and we hope it goes well into the future. The Junior State Cup will be our junior’s opportunity, so in the next couple of months we’ll be doing trials with some really good coaches and getting some teams selected for Junior State Cup.
“(I’m) looking forward to going up and playing Touch again, I’ve played Touch for 35 years, it keeps you fit, it keeps you involved and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to represent the Sharks.”
Sharks GM of Engagement and Pathways, Tim Thorne said the club is ‘confident the partnership will open up an exciting new pathway for both male and female Touch Football players’.
“It is an exciting new agreement between the Cronulla Sharks and Taren Point Touch Association, one which will see the implementation of an Elite Touch Academy and Cronulla Sharks elite Touch Football teams, both male and female, who will compete at a State level.
“The Sharks thank Taren Point Touch Association and the NSW Touch Association for their fantastic support in helping us to get this program up and running,” Thorne added.
Touch Football Australia CEO, Colm Maguire said that the organisation was delighted to see the partnership between the Sharks and Taren Point come to fruition.
“It’s great to see the commitment of both entities and NSW Touch to grow the game and participants across the Shire and between codes for male and female players of all age groups.
“This builds significantly on the great work undertaken by other NRL clubs namely the Raiders and their strong partnership with Touch Football ACT; whereby the representative Touch Football teams are now branded and referred to as ‘ACT Raiders’ along with other joint partnership initiatives and activations there and at other clubs.
“This announcement rounds out a big year for Touch Football in the Shire with the staging in January of the 2015 Youth Trans-Tasman series at Remondis Stadium and the Sharks and Shire community engagement in the lead-up to the event.
“I am certain that from NSW Touch’s perspective it is wonderful to see the blue, black and white taking part at the State Cup event at Port this week under the Sharks banner and just the perfect impetus of a revival of the sport across the Shire,” Maguire said.
For more coverage from Wednesday’s announcement, please visit www.sharks.com.au.