The New South Wales Touch Association’s Junior State Cup has become the largest and most challenging event that the organisation delivers. Throughout its 22 year history, we have seen it grow from 110 teams through to its current peak of 357. As a sport, we can be incredibly proud of the success of this tournament.
However, as many of you can appreciate, the growth of the event has created enormous logistical challenges in that we are now reaching the point of capacity regarding venue, logistics, delivery and resources. If current growth trends continue, we will exceed capacity by the 2018 event.
Further to this is that in the history of the NSWTA Junior State Cup, its location has had a significant impact on the participation of regional NSWTA affiliates. Before 2013 when the event was in the south of the State we were attracting an additional 11 affiliates (Albion Park, Berry, Coolamon, Gerringong, Goulburn, Griffith, Kiama, Leeton, Milton Ulladulla, Moruya and Temora). These affiliates no longer participate, in part due to the barriers of travel and distance. Looking at those affiliates with their best attendances between 2010-2012, this equates to 46 teams.
The flipside of this is that for the reverse of the very same reasons of those in the south of the State we now have another 12 Affiliates (Armidale, Ballina, Camden Haven, Gunnedah, Inverell, Lismore, Macksville, Maitland, Murwillumbah, Narrabri, Scone and Yamba) that attend. These affiliates previously did not attend when the event was held in Wollongong. Their attendance equates to 57 teams at their affiliates best attendance between 2013-2017.
What we are now seeing is continued growth (teams) in the event and many affiliates wanting to bring second teams. However, arguably it has come with a large disconnect of southern NSW.
With this information and statistical support of the current event climate, the Board have been for a while discussing what the future Junior State Cup’s will look like.
With the tender of the NSWTA Junior State Cup becoming available from 2019 through to 2021 the Board have endorsed the business recommendation that provides an opportunity to create changes to the event structure that will cater for the sustained growth of the event whilst also assisting with accessibility from all areas of the State to ensure greater affiliate participation.
From 2019, the NSWTA Junior State Cup will have a Northern Conference and a Southern Conference culminating in a State Final. The two conference events will remain in the current February window of Junior State Cup operation. The State Final will follow but will, however, have an impact on the current timing window of the NSWTA Junior Regionals.
Further information on logistics, the structure, timing (including the NSWTA Junior Regionals) and full details the events will be released in the coming months. Initial and immediate benefits of the decision, beyond those of growth and engagement, will be the opportunities for affiliates to be once again allowed to send second teams, easing of accessibility for accommodation and decrease in traffic management issues with reduced participant numbers at each event. Significantly it will provide opportunities for all affiliates right across the state to be able to participate.
Obviously this a major decision for the sport and one that has not been taken lightly by the Board. It has however been made for the best interests sport and all the members across the whole state.