A bumper amount of teams are scheduled to descend on the Proctor Park/Police Paddock Complex this weekend for the eighth edition of the Bathurst Cup.
The annual pre-season tournament for under 13s-16s National Premier Leagues NSW, Regional League, Regional Conference and Association boys will feature 79 teams this year, falling short of the record of 81 teams set in 2020.
This year’s tournament will bring clubs from all over NSW and ACT, including Sydney, Albury, Bathurst, Canberra, Dubbo, Griffith, Orange, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong.
Bathurst District Football secretary and treasurer Grant Foster said the competition provides an excellent opportunity for local teams to compete against some of the best from across the state. “The Bathurst Cup brings the highest level of football to Bathurst,” he said.
“For teams, it’s their last competitive hit out before their season commences.
“Bathurst now has a strong reputation for excellence in hosting these kinds of carnivals and the Proctor Park Complex is recognised as excellent and one of the best in the state.”
Foster expects the competition will bring up to 5000 visitors to town for the weekend, booking out hotels, motels and accommodation places in not only Bathurst, but surrounding towns such as Lithgow and Orange, providing a massive influx of money into the local economy.
Football NSW Development Manager of regional football Andrew Fearnley said the competition provides an opportunity for clubs to play against other teams that they wouldn’t normally get the chance to face.
“The tournament is used by clubs as a part of pre-season, and an opportunity for the teams to get some good game time together,” he said.
“It also brings an opportunity where clubs can play against other clubs that they wouldn’t normally get to play.
“For me, it also becomes an important event where we can look at a large number of regional players from all over regional NSW with the clubs that continue to support the event.”
One of the many teams that has entered this year’s competition is the Bathurst District Football under 15s team, coached by Bathurst local Liam Smith. He’s overseen the team since they were om the under 13s age group and he’s seen his players progress from easy-beats to a more consistent and competitive team.
“The first year I had them, we didn’t have many good results. It started off pretty poorly, but last year was the first time they had a win as a district team,” he said.
“Ever since then we’ve been flying. We came runners-up in the last competition we were in and the guys just loved it.
“We’ve not only got boys in the team, but we’ve got girls as well. I reckon the girls – Isabelle Schumahcer and Chloe Braiser – have got the best out of all of them. They keep the boys in line, so it’s pretty good like that. I’ve got the two girls in the team because they don’t have a district team for their age.”
Smith has mainly been running his team through fitness drills of late, in preparation for what he expects to be a fast and competitive competition.
“It’s going to be a fast and competitive competition, with all the Sydney teams and all the other areas coming down,” he said.
“It’ll be fierce and tough for them but I have a feeling they’ll be able to get some wins under their belts.
“They’ve got the fight in them and they know how to play, so I reckon we could bring it to the other teams and make Sydney and all those other areas go, ‘What’s going on?’.”
The first games in the Bathurst Cup are expected to kick-off early on Saturday morning, with eight games scheduled to commence at 7.30am.
Last year, Marconi Stallions were champions in all four age groups, defeating Blacktown Spartans in the under 13s and 14s, Western NSW FC in the under 15s and Nepean FC in the under 16s.