first_imgThe Maleny Touch Association at Witta was full to overflowing on Friday 24 November 2006 as the Sunshine Coast Affiliate played host to the 2007 Federation of International Touch World Cup Australian Open Mixed Team.The reigning World Cup Champions traveled from their 3-day training camp base in Brisbane to play an exhibition game against a Maleny President’s 14 team on Friday evening.The small country locality turned on the hospitality and out in force to greet the Australian Team who captivated the locals with their fleet of foot and sleight of hand in a slick performance that had the crowd on their feet.400 spectators lined the sidelines to see Touch Football at its best with the Australian Open Mixed Team turning on a sharp display against a local outfit led by Senior Men’s Queensland ‘A’ representative and Maleny President, Tim Evans.Evans led a host of enthusiastic young guns that relished the opportunity to play against the best the sport has to offer in this Country at Mixed Open level.Local Sunshine Coast Australian Mixed Open products Ben Roberts and Hayley Rogerson received big cheers, whilst Australian Mixed Co-Captain Tony Eltakchi held court as the “King of the Kids” and was equally popular amongst the mum’s who clamored for an autograph.The Australian Coaches spoke to the crowd and introduced the teams, provided commentary, explained the finer points of Mixed, and aspects of the 2007 Australian World Cup campaign. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the Maleny team who scored the town’s sole touchdown right on full time.The Aussie players were pleasantly besieged by a sea of kids requesting their autographs and one young lady, Nicole Sommer aged 12, who found herself without a pen and paper, was given the game ball signed by the Australian Mixed Open team.Nicole’s mother Maree, whose three children all play touch, was full of praise for the Australian Mixed Team and the game.“She loves touch, she has been playing it since she was four, and she has been looking forward to the Aussie Team coming for days. She is on cloud nine, and can’t believe her luck to be given the ball. I will probably have to pries the ball out of her hands when she falls asleep, she is that proud, it’s such a great gesture. The whole town is rapt to have you all here and we will be monitoring the World Cup results in January” Maree said.Australian Co-Captains Tony Eltakchi and Mary Steele were both interviewed after the game and spoke to the crowd about how impressed they were with the response from the locals.“This is excellent, thank-you all so much for coming out and showing your support. We have a tough job ahead of us to retain the World Title, but night’s like tonight make you appreciate the responsibility you have been given to represent your Country and your sport – it’s definitely been worth the travel and we hope to come back again one day.” Eltakchi said.Mary Steele was equally pleased by the town’s response.“Definitely unexpected, everyone has been great and the Maleny team fought hard and gave us a good run, you never know, we might see some of these youngsters in the green and gold in the future! It’s a great boost knowing that you have people in the sport behind you and willing you to do well. Let’s hope we can do the job for everyone.” Steele said.The “Little Big Men” of the Aussie Mixed team, Brad “BJ” Holden and Ben “Boozer” Mc Cullen were clear favourites with the crowd.Whilst standing on the sideline next to the “Tall Timber” of Ben Roberts and Matt Tope, Boozer and BJ drew an interesting comment from a diminutive young fan to his father: “Dad, those two ‘little boys’ there can play real good, there not much bigger than me, I could do that.”Thanks to “B1 and B2” The young man now has his heart set on playing in the Maleny Junior Touch competition… but no one had the heart to tell him that whilst Boozer and BJ might have been around his height, they were just a little too old to play in his age division!Maleny Junior Touch Coordinator Tony Yorkston, who was instrumental in bringing the Australian Team to Maleny, organized a post game dinner for the players and was delighted with the response from locals.“It has been wonderful, people from all the areas up this way are here tonight. We have never had a team of this calibre here before and it is a real privilege. The standard was something of an eye opener for us, and the Aussie team have been excellent ambassadors for the sport – we’d love to do this again in the future. It really brings grass-root level touch and the elite level together. Kids can see people like Hayley and Ben, people they see around the traps, get to this level and it doesn’t seem so far away. It’s just fantastic.”Yorkston said.The Australian Mixed Open Team’s foray to the country has opened the door for the possibility of taking National camps to affiliates across Australia in the future.The Australian Men’s Open camp will be conducted in Rockhampton in Central Queensland on 15-17 December and this is another opportunity for the game to showcase the sport at the highest level, but bring the excitement and build up to the World Cup to our affiliated members and raise the profile of the game in the general community.last_img