Local sides will continue to build towards the upcoming season when the Western NSW Football Central Coast Mariners Challenge Cup is played out at Lady Cutler this weekend.
A number of sides took part in a pre-season tournament at Forster last weekend but travel won’t be an issue this time, with the Cup returning to Dubbo for the first time in a number of years.
“It’s been over in Mudgee for three or fours years and I’ve been keen to get it back,” Dubbo and District Football Association president Jim Auld said.
...always a team of mainly younger players and they are always the benchmark.Jim Auld on CSU FC
“And we’ve been lucky enough this year and council got in and helped by providing the main fields.”
Matches will be played in the men’s and women’s divisons, with the pool games being played out on Saturday before the finals on Sunday.
Macquarie United, Dubbo FC, RSL 78s, South Dubbo Wanderers and Orana Spurs will all be in action, while the Parkes Raptors and Rawson Homes Raptors will join fellow visitors CSU FC and Abercrombie FC, both from the Bathurst region.
“There’s a side from Bathurst, CSU FC, which is always a team of mainly younger players and they are always the benchmark,” Auld said.
Auld said it was a slight pain having the Challenge Cup so close to the tournament at Forster, with a number of sides unable to back-up and play two weeks in a row.
The Wellington women’s side, one which Auld said would have been extremely competitive, was one of the side’s which played but Macquarie United will play a week after winning its grand final on the north coast.
Despite the slight disruption caused by the date, there is no doubt this competition gives clubs another perfect chance to fine-tune things before the season begins.
The local season begins on April 9, with bumper numbers again to take part.
“We’ve got one extra in the seniors, the Narromine women’s side has reformed and come back so there’s 35 seniors sides,” Auld said.
“There’s similar numbers in juniors, that’s under-13s to the under-17s and then we’ve got about 122 teams in the Mini-Roos, that’s from under-5s to under-11s.”
The Challenge Cup action begins from 2pm on Saturday and runs through to roughly 7pm before resuming on Sunday from 9am.
The women’s final will be played at 12pm on Sunday with the men’s decider following at 1.30pm.