The world's best touch footballers will descend onto Sunshine Coast Stadium at Kawana Waters, Queensland in May 2017, with the Open's Trans Tasman Series set to light up the Sunshine Coast for the first time.
The annual Trans Tasman event is the pinnacle of international Touch Football outside of the Touch World Cup; with traditional rivals Australia and New Zealand going head-to-head across the three Opens Men's, Women's and Mixed divisions.
Touch Football Australia Chief Executive, Colm Maguire, said the 2017 Trans Tasman series (10-14 May, 2017) will be one of the few times Australian and New Zealand teams will meet before the 2019 Federation of International Touch World Cup in Malaysia. He anticipates also an exciting International dimension with other countries set to join the event as part of an International series.
"This is the first time New Zealand Opens teams have ventured to the Sunshine Coast, to take us on which is really exciting for the international game and the sport particularly in the region and Queensland," he said.
"With the 2016 State of Origin series now completed, the Australian teams will be selected in coming months and look to repeat their amazing 9-0 clean sweep of the 2016 series in Auckland earlier this year.
This is the first time they have achieved this feat over a three Test series across the Opens divisions and follows the great success at the 2015 Touch World Cup.
"I am certain the New Zealand teams will be well prepared for the Sunshine Coast and aiming to prove they can successfully take on the Australian sides away from home and strive to secure the title for the first time since the 2013 series."
Following the overall success of the 2015 Touch World Cup with 23 member nations competing, and the introduction of Japan to the 2016 event format at Auckland, Maguire said there is strong interest from other countries to compete against the best sides in the world, in conjunction with the Trans Tasman series.
“Certainly what we are seeing across the globe in recent years is tremendous development and growth of the game internationally, which is fantastic to see,” he said.
“The opportunity for countries such as Japan, Singapore, USA, Papua New Guinea and other countries who have expressed interest to be involved in international showpiece events including next year’s Trans Tasman is compelling. Playing against the best countries in the world and potentially State and regional invitational sides, will only enhance their development and hopefully get them to the next level as part of this next World Cup cycle (Malaysia, 2019).
“This of course supports the growth of the game internationally and provides a fillip to those regional centres where we conduct the events increasing the international visitation and the economic impact locally.
“The partnerships TFA have struck with Japan Touch Association and Singapore Touch Association has only strengthened this opportunity and international relationships accordingly.”
The Sunshine Coast Council Sport, Tourism and Major Events’ portfolio councillor, Jason O’Pray and fellow Sunshine Coast councillors joined with Touch Football Australia Chief Executive, Colm Maguire confirming the venue in 2017.
“Tourism, sport and leisure is one of seven high-value industries in the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy,” he said.
“And we regularly host national and international sporting events and teams that are drawn here by our high quality facilities, our favourable climate and our local expertise.
“Sunshine Coast Stadium at Kawana is our region’s premier sporting venue and has been a regular for major events like the National Youth Touch Football Championships and Melbourne Storm pre-season matches.
“This year the Sunshine Coast is playing host to an unprecedented 60 major sporting and lifestyle events, estimated to bring over 150,000 guests from all over the world. Next year our region celebrates the 50th anniversary of the naming of the Sunshine Coast and we’ll also welcome our very first national elite sporting side into the Australian Netball League.
“So it’ll be fantastic to also play host to the Trans-Tasman Touch Football Series for the first time. Having the world’s best touch footballers here will be a fantastic opportunity for our sports loving community, as well as our aspiring young sports people and it’ll also provide more great exposure for our region both domestically and overseas.”
Beyond the international competition Maguire added that the event provides a great promotion of the sport with a strong Touch Football footprint across the region and a number of players from Sunshine Coast represented in various teams emerging from the junior ranks including Women’s Open player, Kim Sue-See.
“We have always enjoyed our time on the Sunshine Coast hosting the Harvey Norman Youth Championships in recent years and this year with the introduction of the Harvey Norman School Series and the Alliance Cup as part of this format.
“As well as the elite competition on show, next year’s event provides a great opportunity for junior players to watch, and take part in clinics by, some of the world’s best touch football athletes, helping to ignite and foster in them an even greater love of the sport,” he said.