South East pride on the line

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

South East pride on the line

The cream of the South East’s footy crop will head to Victor Harbor this weekend to represent the South East in the Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships.

Players from the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League, Limestone Coast Football Netball League and Mid South Eastern Football League will compete against teams pooled from the state’s other footy zones Central, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Southern Districts.

Around 250 of the state’s best male and female country players, together with 200-plus officials from regional leagues across SA, will represent their zone in matches at both Victor Harbor and Encounter Bay ovals.

Eastern will be hoping to defend its historic 2023 crown in the men’s championships, while Central will be seeking back-to-back glory after also taking out its first women’s championships last year.

The last time the South East won the championship was back in 2022 with Naracoorte’s Matt Wilson being awarded the player of the championships.

As well as the championship there will also be a SANFL match played with South Adelaide taking on North Adelaide at Victor Harbor Oval.

The South East side comprises 13 players from the KNTFL, with six players representing the LCFNL and another six from the MSEFL, with six under 21 players in the side.

Naracoorte’s Matt Wilson will captain the side with Bordertown’s Jacob Eats as vice captain.

The KNTFL’s Nick Davis will coach the side, with MSEFL’s Clint Gallio and LCFNL’s Tom Renzi assistant coaches.

KNTFL players include Bordertown’s Eats and Troy Blackwell, Keith’s Daniel Bibby, Kingston’s Campbell Watts, Lucindale’s Henry Tregoweth and Tom Fisher, Mundulla’s Billy Wiese, Nick Mosey, Darcy King and Reagan Tink, Naracoorte’s Willson, Padthaway’s Nathan McCarthy and Penola’s Beau Shinnick.

The LCFNL will be represented by Millicent’s Kade Bradley, Kade Varcoe, Harry Tunkin, Kalan Shanks and Finn Grimes, along with South Gambier’s Mason Hein.

Representatives from the MSEFL include Glencoe’s Dylan Childs, Hatherleigh’s Patrick Chay and Mitch Pulmer, Kalangadoo’s Tye McManus and Mount Burr’s Gallio and Sam Wallis.

Davis said his side was looking forward to competing on the weekend.

“We got a fairly strong line up in the end and it’s a pretty good mix so I’m happy,” he said.

“Our goal is just to win as many games as we can, last year we won both the early games and still did not qualify for the grand final so we will once again try and win our first two games and see where that puts us ready for the finals on Sunday.”

Davis said he expected leaders Wilson and Eats to make a big impact on the weekend.

“Matt Wilson is always dangerous, he’s been the player of the carnival before and Jacob Eats was really good up forward and I think he led the goal kicking last year in the carnival and made the team of the carnival the last two times so they will be really important for us,” he said.

The South East side will kick off the weekend as they take on Eyre Peninsula at Victor Harbor Oval tomorrow night, the first time the championships will feature Friday night football in its 30-year 

SANFL Head of Community Football Shawn Ford said the Country Championships not only provided an opportunity to showcase the state’s best country footballers, but also gave a major boost to tourism in Victor Harbor and the Fleurieu region.

“The Think! Road Safety Country Championships are so much more than just a footy carnival,” Ford said.

“It is now regarded as one of the largest regional sporting events on the SA calendar, providing a fantastic social and economic boost for the entire host region, while also showcasing some of the best regional football facilities in the state.

“The championships are a great opportunity to celebrate all the great things we love about country footy and leave a lasting legacy for everyone involved.”

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