The North Coast Force finished strongly to record its best overall results at the Northern NSW Representative Carnival, claiming a runners-up spot, two third places and a fifth.
There were three Bellingen Bulldogs players in the Under 13s (Jai Bowd, Max Cracknell, Sunny Perrot), four in the Under 15s (Cameron Greenwood, Luke Greenwood, Harrison Lee, Kyan Upsall) and and four in the Youth Girls team (Deja Barlow, Demi Bowd, Jamika McAulay-Earnest, Katelyn Whyman).
Katelyn Whyman, who comes from Kalang, won Best and Fairest player award for the Youth Girls.
The Under 13 team recorded the best result for the program with a second place finish. It won three of its four round robin matches to earn a place in the final where it couldn't quite match it with the strong Hunter outfit.
This is the first ever time that a Force Under 13 team has qualified for the final, in a very positive sign for the future of the program.
The Under 15 team suffered close losses to eventual finalists Hunter and Illawarra to narrowly miss out on a place in the final. Wins over Central Coast and North West meant the team finished third on the ladder and faced off against Central Coast for the second time in the third place play-off. The Force prevailed in a drama-filled match to come away with a deserved third place.
The Under 17 team won one and lost two of its three round robin matches and played North West in the third place play-off. North West started strongly to grab an early lead but the Force worked their way back into the contest and eventually over powered their rival to claim third spot.
The Youth Girls team is in a rebuilding phase with a significant number of players from last season now too old and being replaced by bottom age players. Despite the major age and size gap to each of the other teams, the Force girls embraced the challenge and took the fight to each of the other teams. Although they didn't win a match this season they have set the groundwork for successful campaigns in the next couple of seasons.
The Best and Fairest player for the Force teams were announced as:
- Under 13 - Beau Guthrie (Coffs Harbour Breakers)
- Under 15 - Alby Popko (Grafton Tigers)
- Youth Girls - Katelyn Whyman (Bellingen Bulldogs)
- Under 17 - Alex Pyke (Sawtell Toormina Saints)
The Force program continues to go from strength to strength and punches above its weight considering that three of the other four competing Leagues have bigger player bases to select from. As the AFL North Coast junior competition continues to record positive year on year growth this gap closes and the Force continues to make its mark.