The run-up to the Southern Tablelands Football Association's winter season officially began on Saturday with the opening rounds of the 2021 Association Cup.
Described by STFA football manager, Craig Norris, as a "pre-season mini-tournament", the weekend's event featured six senior men's teams facing off in a series of round robin fixtures.
The semi-finals closed out the matches on Saturday, as the Workers Club triumphed 1-0 over the Soldiers Club and the Stags beat the Strikers 3-1 on penalties.
The grand final, between the Stags and the Workers Club, will take place on Saturday, April 24 at Cookbundoon.
"It was pretty even across the board. There were no blowouts, and even the two semis were close," Norris said.
"There was a fair bit of enthusiasm to be out there, everyone was happy to be back out. The weather snapped and reminded us it was coming into winter."
Each of the games were shortened on the weekend, with 15-minute halves instead of the usual 45. This weekend will see the same formula on a much larger scale, with the juniors set to take to the fields.
There will be 24 junior teams playing in total this weekend, including eight Under 13s Boys sides, four Under 13s Girls sides, six Under 15s sides and six Colts teams.
The junior grand finals will also be played on the 24th, which will all be full-length games.
This, Norris said, was due to the fact that the STFA had a similar pre-season event a couple of years ago, but held the grand finals on the same day to lukewarm reception.
So, in response to feedback from the teams, the STFA has now decided to make the grand finals their own event, which they hope will prove popular to spectators and useful to the teams involved.
"We've done pre-season tournaments in various formats," he said.
"We tried a round robin a couple of years ago. I think it works and it's a good way to get everybody ready."
Matches in the Junior Association Cup begin from 9am on Saturday, April 17, at the Cookbundoon Playing Fields. Further information about fixtures can be found here.
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