Dane Howard runs away from the defence at Yass Touch Football. Photo Moments Captured by Cam, Yass Touch Football.

Yass Touch Football Association is in a great position, with organisers busy hosting the first four rounds of their 2023/24 competition. With around 350 juniors registered, Walker Park has been a hive of activity each Wednesday, with juniors kicking off in the afternoon while seniors take over in the evening. Catering for all ages, the Yass McDonalds junior competition kicks off at 4.15 pm and wraps up at 6pm, with teams competing in the Little Kids Cup (4-6 years), Super Star Series (7-8 years), All Stars Cup (9-10 years), and Toots Shields (11- 14s).

The Australian Hotel senior competition is just as busy, kicking off at 6.30 pm, with weekly games getting the competitive juices flowing. A proactive Yass Touch Football Association committee, led by President Will Collins, has seen junior numbers grow from around 50 in 2017 to its current state, with the competition thriving after the COVID pandemic. Yass Touch Football Association has tried to create a family-friendly atmosphere that caters to kids of all abilities, and that is the trick. “We’ve got a canteen supporting the juniors for the couple of hours they’re there, and it’s become a bit of a family and social event,” Collins said. “Families can get a feed if they have to stick around for seniors, and it’s just a good afternoon. “Also, kids don’t get to pick their teams, and instead, we place them in teams. “That way, it is a level playing field, and it is more than winning but bringing along skills and getting kids to participate. “It also gets them playing more, and then they step into seniors and reps, which is naturally more competitive, but they have that good grounding.”

With 37 qualified level-one referees who get paid to adjudicate games, the club is setting itself up for success, and the committee is already starting to see that flow-on effect. “We’re doing a lot of work with referees, and with our upcoming gala day, we’re hoping to qualify some level two referees,” Collins said. “We’re doing more work on coaching the coaches and making sure they’re qualified, and we’ve dedicated some of our qualified referees to juniors. “That way, it enhances the refereeing opportunities, and it starts to implement those rules and coverage of gameplay in the juniors, so when they step into seniors and reps, they are used to it, which will make us more competitive overall.

“We’re still trying to make up ground, and we’re doing a lot to help those juniors progress to seniors and make the entire competition a lot more competitive.” Yass Touch Football Association will also field nine representative and two development teams in 2023/24, including under-10s, 12s, 14s, 16s, and 18s boy’s rep teams, under-10s and 14s boy’s development teams, and under-12s, 14s, 16, and 18s girl’s representative teams. Those teams face a busy season, contesting gala days at Yass on November 18, the ACT on December 9, Orange on January 21, and Leeton on February 3 ahead of the Junior State Cup in Wagga between February 16-18.

“We’re only a small committee, and we don’t have the biggest depth of players being a smaller community, but we want every player doing the best they can, and that’s why the focus is on our juniors and developing them,” Collins said. “The idea is to get more players trying out for reps, having more to pick from, and then progressing them to carnivals and competing at state carnivals.” From those wanting to have a bit of social fun playing touch to elite players, Yass Touch Football Association is trying to offer the community all opportunities, and it’s easy to get involved.

For more information, readers can visit the ‘Yass Touch Football Association’ Facebook page.