Public schools shine at state soccer

Hard on the heels of the Matildas, public schools performed superbly at the recent state primary football championships. Glenn Cullen reports.

A mash up of four photos of student soccer players. A mash up of four photos of student soccer players.
Image: Clockwise from top left: the NSW Combined Primary Girls Football team; students participating in all-abilities football; the NSW Combined Primary Boys Football team; an all-abilities football activity.

Just as the nation was captivated by the feats of the Matildas, the next generation of would-be soccer stars were showing off their talents at the NSW Primary Schools Sports Association (NSWPSSA) Combined Primary Boys and Girls Football Championships.

The event brought the best junior footballers from NSW public, Catholic and independent schools together at Nelson Bay’s Tomaree Sports Complex, with more than 300 primary students participating and 50 staff and officials assisting.

The championships coincided with the final stages of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, as the Matildas prepared for their final World Cup match in a playoff for third against Sweden.

Players also got to meet Newcastle Jets A-League Women’s star, Cassidy Davis, who provided commentary for the live stream on finals day and participated in a question and answer session.

The last day of competition proved to be a good one for NSW public schools, with wins in both the girls’ and boys’ divisions.

In a keenly contested girls final, Sydney West edged Sydney North 1-0, while the Sydney East team continued its dominance from the pool rounds to beat MacKillop 2-0 in the boys’ decider.

NSWPSSA Football Convener Allan Duroux said the championships had been a huge success.

“The Hunter School Sports Association did a fantastic job organising the venue and the event,” he said.

“It was so exciting to see the most talented footballers from across the state compete together at the one event.

“The standard of play demonstrated by both the boys and girls was really impressive and the fact that they have played side by side across the week also created a festival of football environment.”

State squads were chosen after the championships, with 10 of the 12 girls selected from public schools, while eight public school players made the boys’ side.

Victoria will host the 2023 National School Sports Association Championships from 15-20 October.

The School Sport Unit’s Disability and Inclusion team also facilitated an all-abilities footballing opportunity for students with disability in conjunction with the championships.

Disability and Inclusion Officer Peter Cardy said the two-day event attracted 200 students from 19 schools across the Hunter region.

“It doesn’t get any better than seeing students of all abilities work together and enjoy the benefits of being physically active while playing a sport that they love,” he said.

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