The team is the first open-aged mixed side from Townsville in over 15 years to travel to the event and will compete against teams from across Queensland for the right to be called the “best in the state”.
Player-Coach Kylie Hahipene is excited about the team’s prospects at this year’s event.
“It’s a lovely young team to work with, and they’ve turned it on during each of the selection trials to really prove that they belong in the team and we can see already they will be a very strong side.”
“We have nothing to lose, only to gain, and we have a youthful side full of potential.”
Hahipene spoke highly of the players selected into the side, highlighting the balance between experienced and debuting players.
“Many of our players are returning to the representative stage after the NQ Cyclones Mixed Open campaign at the NTL’s (National Touch League) in March this year. The playing group have a high level of mixed experience, matched with some new talent to build a more than competitive team.”
“Mixed (touch football) at the elite level is very dynamic and strategic, with lots of importance placed on the balance of male and female energies and skills against the opposition; it’s like a game of chess in some ways, and I love it!”
“The most exciting thing for me is having a coachable team, which is always a dream to work with.”
Hahipene was also excited about the opportunities available through the event.
“State Cup is a selection event for next year’s State of Origin, so our players have the opportunity to impress state coaches and earn a spot in the Under 20’s or Open-age Queensland sides.”
“Open Mixed often brings a range of ages together, and it’s even a chance for couples to play together, both socially and at representative level.”
The team’s youngest player Trey Hahipene (son of coach Kylie) is 15, while Hahipene herself is the team’s oldest player at 38 years young.
The Hahipene’s are not the only family connection in the side, with Team Manager Cherrie and son Joshua Pierce, joining two playing couples also making the trip down.
Hahipene jokes that “hopefully, those connections will help us to stay ‘in-sync’ on the field in both our attack and defence”.
Townsville Touch Football’s Head of Coaching, Jason Buczynsky, praised the work that Hahipene has done to bring the side together.
“Kylie has been a big driver with this right from the start. She knows what she wants to achieve with this team and she has been on the ball since day one to ensure we get the right players to do that.”
“Ultimately we’d love to come home with the trophy and we know the players chosen will give 110% so winning is achievable, but even if we don’t then the guys and girls will still be able to hold their heads high.”
Cautious but optimistic about the COVID-19 pandemic, Buczynsky said that all precautions were being taken to ensure the team is kept safe.
“We (Townsville Touch Football) have a COVID Safe plan in place locally, which we follow for our games, trials, and training sessions, and we’ll be working with QLD Touch Football and their Events Team to make sure we follow all protocols they have in place. It’s a day-by-day approach for us while the situation down south evolves, so we’ll continue to work towards getting there and doing it safely as long as we are able to.”
Townsville will also be sending teams in the Men’s and Women’s open-age, and Under 20’s Girls divisions, which will be named at a later date.
The event will run on the Gold Coast from 27-29 November, 2020, as part of the 2020 Festival of Touch.
The team named to compete at the event is as follows:
Players: Emily Batten, Lachlan Brown, Connor Campbell, Summer Donnelly, Brynn Du Rand, Trey Hahipene, Joshua Pierce (Sharks), Matthew Eggins, Samuel Twiname (Brothers), Kylie Hahipene, Bailee Villalba (Crocs), William Hunter, Tyla Leo (Redskins), Zachery McMinn, Jane Schefe (Frogs), and Wyatt Raymond (Jots-Tigers).
Coach: Kylie Hahipene
Manager: Cherrie Pierce