Brazilian connection for 'our' Johnny

FOOTBALL

Jamberoo will celebrate the spirit of football this weekend with the 17th annual Johnny Warren Memorial Cup.

Starting tonight, the seven-a-side tournament brings together teams from all over the state to help remember one of football's most iconic figures.

An enormous advocate for the game, Warren lived in Jamberoo until his death in 2004.

"It is a great way to pay tribute to his passion for the game," organiser and Johnny's nephew, Jamie Warren, said.

"To have a tournament in John's name is very special not only to me but to many of the players who attend, and have been attending, since he passed away."

Former Socceroos Ernie Campbell and Troy Henderson will be among a large player contingent, which will have a distinctly Brazilian feel before this year's World Cup finals.

"With the World Cup in Brazil, John's connection with Brazil and it being the 10th anniversary [of his death], it gives us a lot more reasons to celebrate," Jamie said.

"We have got a big Brazilian contingent coming to Jamberoo," he explained.

"They're called the Sydney Brazilian Social Club and have played at Centennial Park in Sydney every Sunday for about 40 years.

"John used to go and meet with those guys as much as he could so it is a very special time for them," he said.

The 2014 tournament is expected to be the largest ever, with more than 52 teams playing across three divisions.

There will be men's over-35s and 45s divisions - and a women's over-30s competition will be held for the very first time.

Warren insists that it's not the glory of victory which draws players to the picturesque village.

"Friendships are the main thing that John got out of the game," Jamie said.

"You can get all the fame and fortune but the friendships you make along the way are the most important.

"I guess it is a reunion and opportunity for people to meet new people through football."

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