THE COLOUR and excitement of the McDonald’s Joeys Mini World Cup hit Inverell again on Saturday, even though the weather put a damper on the opening day.
The sometimes heavy rain didn’t seem to worry the players from the 34 teams that have come from near and far to make this third tournament the biggest yet.
Game one of the tournament saw the team that has come the furthest on display.
The first ever international visitors to play at the Mini World Cup, a women’s side from the Waikato region of New Zealand, took on a combined East Armidale/Tamworth team in the carnival opener and showed why they are favoured to win the open women’s section.
The Kiwis were all class in a 10-nil win over the local sides, representing USA, with some exceptional skill in front of goal one of the highlights.
Strikers Georgia Green and former New Zealand rep Helen Collins both slotted early hat-tricks as New Zealand led 8-nil at halftime.
To prove their quality further, New Zealand then beat Joeys FC (Brazil) 10-nil in their second game on Saturday.
Eight teams are competing in the women’s draw, with the Joeys All Stars (Australia), Grafton/Coffs (Japan) and North Armidale (Germany) the biggest threats to the Kiwis.
14 teams took to the field in the under 16s tournament and Toowoomba Grammar 1 (Spain) also showed why it is the reigning champion and favourites for the title again with a big win over Tamworth (Argentina).
The other local sides in the 16s include Joeys (Algeria), Gunnedah (Ivory Coast), Demon Knights (Australia) and North Armidale (Brazil).
North Armidale started with a 1-nil loss to Lismore (France), but it could have been a different story if the Redmen had taken their chances.
“It should have been 8-1 to us,” coach Chet Davies said with a shake of the head.
“We were too nervous in front of goal.
“But we’ll be strong this week.”
In the under 13s division, 12 teams played their first games.
Teams have come from Toowoomba, Stanthorpe, Goondiwindi, Grafton, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Armidale and Toowoomba Grammar will also be hard to beat in that division.
Even prolific organiser Heinrich Haussler couldn’t provide good weather on the first day but the sun shone yesterday for day two.
The tournament continues today and tomorrow, with the finals set down for Wednesday.