The man credited with turning soccer into a national sport in Australia said Lismore has been through hell, and now, "it is time for a bit of heaven".
Heaven will come in the form of the beautiful game, according to former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic.
Rasic, the first coach to take an Australian team to the finals of the World Cup in 1974, is now the patron of Joeys Mini World Cup and he was in town to announce the tournament will be held in Lismore for the next three years.
Up to 5000 people are expected to descend on the region for the tournament, and will generate more than $2.2 million.
Lismore mayor Steve Krieg said: "It could not come at a better time with many of our businesses re-opening after the February natural disaster with more to open soon".
Joeys is one of the nation's largest regional soccer tournaments, and in September, games will be hosted by various soccer clubs in Lismore.
South Lismore Celtic Football Club, Dunoon United Football Club, Lismore Richmond Rovers Football Club, Goonellabah Football Club, and Oakes Oval will all host games, with South Lismore's games to be played at Hepburn Park in Goonellabah.
Each club will receive $3000 for the use of their facilities, plus share $9000 worth of equipment to help replace items lost in the flood.
The tournament will attract teams from around Australia and overseas, from Under 10s to Under 19s, and an Open women's category.
There are major prizes up for grabs for players participating in the tournament:
A total of $120,000 will be given away in subsidies, merchandise, and equipment, making Lismore Joeys Mini World Cup the highest rewarding tournament for players and coaches in the world, organisers say.
The tournament has its origins in Inverell in 2010, before moving to Hervey Bay to expand in 2018.
Tournament director Heinrich Haussler said the flood in 2017 thwarted plans for the tournament to come to Lismore at that time, but was making the move now to grow even further.
Haussler said Lismore has had a strong connection with the tournament since its inception, with local teams always offering a strong showing.
He said coaches Michael Elliott and Jason Halliday were at the first event, and their continued support, alongside that of teams and the Northern Rivers Football Academy, had been instrumental in Lismore being chosen as the host site for the next three years.
Organisers and Lismore officials said they were not concerned about Lismore's capacity to house competitors and their families after the flood.
Mayor Steve Krieg said rooms at every available place of accommodation in Lismore would be open, and neighbouring towns would welcome any overflow.
Haussler said those participating in the tournament would not be daunted, and "they will sleep in a tent, or bring a caravan" if needed.
Competition will kick off on September 26 and run until October 1.
For more information, go to www.joeysminiworldcuplismore.com
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