japanTwo Lismore soccer players are on the trip of a lifetime as part of an Under-14 team from Northern NSW, partnered by Coal & Allied, that headed to Japan on Friday to represent Australia in the Tokyo International Youth Football Tournament, 125 years after the first miners in the Hunter introduced the game to the region.

Included in the side are South Lismore’s Kurt Walker and Jay Keevers of Goonellabah.

The tournament includes teams from China, Germany, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, France, Brazil, Korea, and Japan, with the Northern NSW squad chosen to represent Australia.

Coal & Allied’s Hunter Valley Operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines have joined together to support the Northern NSW team, made up of players from seven zones.
Hunter Valley Operations general manager operations Graham Gageler said the partnership provided a great opportunity for Coal & Allied to support the development of the region’s local talent.

“Coal miners first brought football to the Hunter Valley more than a century ago, so by supporting the Northern NSW Football team we’re helping to continue that tradition,” Mr Gageler said.

Home stays have been organised for the team to experience what it’s like to live in Japan, before they travel back to Tokyo for the tournament. The team return home on 6 May

The Northern NSW team consists of:

Levi Charlesworth (Mayfield), Jack Charnock (Butterwick), Nathan Chock (Lakelands), Nick Cowburn (Blackalls Park), Laurence Creevey (Wallsend), William Kam (Tamworth), Jay Keevers (Goonellabah), Brad MacKenzie (Tamworth), Jacob Montgomery (Bolwarra Heights), McLean Nadfalusi (Charlestown), Robert Pasquale (Corlette), Morgen Stassi (Charlestown), Nathan Stevens (Valentine), Kurt Walker (South Lismore), Tynan Wingrove (Maryland) and Harry Zakaraukas (North Lambton).

PICTURE: Jay (left) and Kurt.