BALLARAT’S 10th annual Total Girl Tournament soccer competition, billed as the biggest such event in the southern hemisphere, has been cancelled, sparking fears for the tournament’s future.
Past tournaments, which are held over two days in March at Ballarat Grammar School, attracted thousands of competitors, many coming from as far as Queensland and Western Australia.
One of the tournament’s founding members, Laurelle Sommers, said Ballarat Grammar School could not host the 2014 tournament due to the construction of new facilities.
Ms Sommers said other venues, including Sebastopol’s Marty Busch Reserve and the new Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, were not feasible.
“(Grammar) is the only venue in Ballarat that’s contained. Parking is there, allowing us to centralise facilities like first aid and catering,” Ms Sommers said.
“Marty Busch came up, but it’s not suitable. We would have needed to double our volunteer base and we didn’t have it.”
Football Federation Victoria is now running its own replacement event, dubbed Girls FC, to be held at the State Football Centre in Darebin from March 22 to 23.
The Ballarat tournament, attended by more than 1100 girls last year, started with humble beginnings in 2005 after a small group of parents organised a local tournament with about 12 teams.
“I’m very proud of what we achieved,” Ms Sommers said.
“It has certainly got a lot bigger than the small committee ever thought it was going to be.”
City of Ballarat chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the council had tried to work with organisers to ensure a 2014 event.
“Council has been working with the Total Girl Tournament event organisers for a number of months to ensure that sufficient ground options were available to enable the event to take place in Ballarat,” Mr Schinck said.
Mr Sommers said organisers hoped the tournament would be back in Ballarat next year, adding that teams from New Zealand and Tasmania had already expressed
The Courier unsuccessfully sought comment from Ballarat Grammar School