The only way is up for Queensland Touch Junior State Cup
THE Junior State Cup could be bigger and better if Jamie O'Connor gets his way.
The Queensland Touch CEO spent yesterday looking over the organisation's "biggest participation event" for the first time.
O'Connor was previously the Intrust Super Cup general manager, and oversaw the competition's expansion into Townsville and Papua New Guinea.
When O'Connor took up the job in April, it was so he could tackle - or touch - a new challenge, and the Junior State Cup's future is high on his list of priorities.
"We haven't set any goals yet, but we've got an opportunity to grow and we have to figure out what that will actually look like," he said.
"For the Junior State Cup, there's no reason why we can't build on the 200 teams we have here. I think we need to create a marquee event that is not just big for us, but big for the community."
More than 7000 people filed into the Tavistock St fields for the first day of the competition yesterday, and all will return to the precinct for the second day today.
"This is easily our biggest participation event of the year," he said. "I think there are two main aspects.
"There's the participation side of it. Kids come from all across Queensland to play touch footy against other kids their age.
"While some might get a touch-up on the field they still learn a lot about the game and themselves."
The other major benefit is the participants' social skills.
"They get to meet, play footy and engage with other kids that share the same hobbies," he said.
Steve Murphy is a pure example of where the Junior State Cup has helped off the field.
Murphy played in his first NSW Junior State Cup in the early 1990s, and went on to win two World Cups with Australia.
The current Parramatta Eels assistant coach met his wife Renee at a Junior State Cup, and the touch football family has grown.
"One daughter is playing for the Gold Coast 16s and the youngest was supposed to play in the 12s, but she broke her arm a few weeks ago," Murphy said.
"We've been very fortunate with touch football. I met my wife through it and got to represent my country.
"Touch teaches social skills and all of those great values like teamwork."
The first games start at 8am today
The final day starts at 8.30am tomorrow.