Competition numbers have skyrocketed for Newcastle Junior Oztag, as they cater for 98 teams this summer season.
When Competition Coordinator, Rhiannon Howard took over Newcastle Juniors in 2015, they had roughly 12 teams. This current summer season, they have an outstanding 98 teams registered.
The Newcastle Junior Oztag competition kicked off last Thursday 13 October, at Smith Park Broadmeadow, with divisions including Under 6s – Under 16s Boys and Girls.
Jumping from 50 teams in 2021, Rhiannon is thrilled with the growth of her Newcastle Juniors – putting the rise in numbers down to word of mouth and the dedication of her committee.
“I’ve had many parents give me great feedback saying how well-run the competition is and everyone is talking about playing Oztag at schools, along with other winter sports using Oztag as a way to keep their sporting teams together in the off season,” Rhiannon said.
“Our committee also works hard to ensure the competition is always ran smoothly, so they have also been a massive help in the recent growth of the competition,” she said.
Rhiannon has grown up around Oztag, as her parents, Jo and Brett Howard have managed Newcastle Seniors since 2001. Starting out with 17 teams and now having 140, they’ve shown firsthand what it takes to run a successful competition.
“With Mum and Dad running a competition, I understood what hard work it was to get a competition up and running,” Rhiannon said
“With their Senior competition being so successful, that became my aim as well and I’m very proud of myself and the hard work I’ve put in to this competition, along with the help from our Newcastle Oztag committee and Mum and Dad,” she said.
Every season, Rhiannon sets a goal for the number of teams she would like to have registered and without fail, exceeds that objective year after year.
This summer season being no different, Newcastle Junior numbers climbed to a starling 98 registered teams.
“This year I was aiming for 50 teams and the numbers just kept rising every single day,” Howard said.
“Unfortunately, I had to knock some teams back due to not having any lights on our fields,” she said.
Newcastle Senior Oztag are currently the largest competition in the Hunter Region, so it is great to see that same interest filter through the juniors.
“Every year more and more kids are talking about Oztag… Since many kids are now playing Oztag in their school sport, they are enjoying it so much and can’t wait for the next competition to start up,” Rhiannon said.
In terms of representative potential, Rhiannon anticipates that with more kids playing at a local level, there will be more interest for next year’s State Cup trials.
“We are hoping to take away some very competitive rep teams to State Cup next year with the talent we have running around at our Newcastle Competition,” she said.
Moving forward, Rhiannon is determined to continue developing her Junior competition and gain the resources necessary to cater for numerous divisions.
“I’ll defiantly be aiming to play over two nights and have A & B divisions in all age groups – at the moment I have them in two age groups,” she said.
“I would love to be as successful as Michelle from Dragon Tag and also have some lights installed on our fields so we can accommodate both seniors and juniors over various nights, without having to knock back teams,” Rhiannon said.