Thousands of young soccer players, their coaches, parents, volunteers and support staff will descend on Shepparton this long weekend and The News extends to them all a warm welcome.
Hosting a major event such as the Victoria Country Junior Football Championships is the perfect use of our sporting facilities and a fantastic boost for the local economy.
It also allows us to showcase Shepparton to families from across Victoria. Perhaps some of them will find a new home here.
Sport is one of the great strengths of our region. Whatever the code, in an age of screen overuse and expanding Australian waistlines, sport provides a vital check on our own and our children’s bad habits.
Sport promotes teamwork, community and a healthy lifestyle.
Soccer is the most popular participation sport in the country for boys, and the second-most popular overall.
AFL and netball may command the lion’s share of the attention for many, but soccer is what is being played the most.
During coming weeks, soccer will get more attention than usual as 32 countries face off in Russia for the prestigious soccer world cup.
Australia’s prospects are not considered strong, but they are there and still in with a chance when formerly strong nations such as Italy, the Netherlands and Chile are not.
Australia’s success in gaining entry did not come out of a vacuum; it started on fields such as those being played on this weekend.
Hosting 1300 boys and girls aged 10 to 15 is a privilege for our township. It is easily conceivable that one or more of those children will grow to play at a future world cup in eight to 12 years’ time.
And while there are benefits in the future for hosting such a competition, there are also lasting benefits now.
The Queen’s Birthday long weekend is typically a quiet one in Shepparton. Greater Shepparton City Council should be congratulated for filling that void with such a big competition.
Businesses that would normally take the day off will remain open, according to inquiries.
More than $1million will flow through the local economy, assisting local businesses and paying local wages that normally would have gone unfunded.
There is little about this weekend’s sporting event to criticise and much to praise. It is a win for all involved and a win for our town.