2021 review of the most important sports on the Coffs Coast – news from the region
DESPITE an interrupted Covid-19 season, the Coffs Coast hosted a number of major sporting events in 2021 that created special memories for the region and the community.
The Newcastle Jets played an audition match against the Brisbane Roar at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium last summer, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
It was a pivotal moment in the career of Jets striker Valentino Yuel, who was on trial at the time and immediately won a two-year deal after drawing the attention of coaches at Coffs Harbor.
Yuel scored five goals in the opening games of the A-League season and was the A-League’s top scorer in three games in his second season.
The Newcastle Jets stayed in Coffs Harbor for a week, using the area as a training center and engaging the community with free children’s football clinics and open training sessions at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium.
The Jets returned to Coffs Harbor in April for an A-League match against Perth Glory that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Coffs RISE participants met Newcastle Jets players and exchanged stories.
In June 2021, foot fever blazed through town as the first NRL match was played in which the Cronulla Sharks beat the Gold Coast Titans 38-10.
Sharks trainer Josh Hannay told News Of The Area the venue was top notch.
“First class, the hospitality was amazing, the playing surface is fantastic and it was great to play in front of a crowded stadium, it took a lot of cooperation and thanks to the council for their help, it’s great to work with you, I would love to come back” said Hannay.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook said there was a big problem with the venue.
“The facilities are excellent, we love coming to Coffs Harbor, there is only one problem, we keep losing here, we need some wins here, the playing surface and venue are excellent,” said Holbrook.
The Cronulla Sharks and Gold Coast Titans will return to Coffs Harbor on Saturday June 18, 2022 to repeat last season’s clash.
Back in July, Kaitlan Leaney and Brianna Hoy returned as they helped the NSW Waratahs win the Buildcorp Super W trophy at Coffs Harbor and beat the Queensland Reds 45:12 in the final.
Kaitlan and Brianna grew up in Coffs Harbor, played for and against each other at the Coffs Harbor Snappers Rugby Union Club and SCU Marlins Rugby Union Club, and were cheered on every step of the way by their home crowd at the C.ex International Stadium.
Kaitlan told News Of The Area about the amazing experience.
âSuch a great experience that I’m incredibly grateful for.
âBri and I were very lucky to have our family and friends there, the atmosphere was so much fun and all of the Tahs girls felt supported.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better result and winning on home turf made it so much sweeter,” said Kaitlan.
For Brianna Hoy, it was an experience she won’t forget.
âIt was really a unique experience to see so many not only friends and family but also supporters of women’s rugby, it was really amazing to see.
âAnd to see the next generation of boys and girls standing cheering at the fence, just as excited as I was at that age, was very surreal.
“I was very proud to have the competition in my hometown,” said Brianna.
In August, local talent Locky Miller competed in the Tokyo Olympics, scoring three tries for Australia in rugby 7s.
Upon returning to Port of Coffs, Miller made the decision to change the codes and signed a two-year contract for the Cronulla Sharks.
Former Sawtell Panthers captain and SCU Marlins player will have plenty of home support for the Sharks’ match in June 2022.
At the end of 2021, the big sporting action will begin on the first day of 2022 when the Sydney Sixers will play against the Melbourne Renegades on New Year’s Day at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium.
We enjoyed capturing and sharing these moments in 2021 and look forward to more in 2022 – THANK YOU.
By David WIGLEY