Junior sport is the foundation for the future

You can feel the seasons changing even though the traditional sultry autumn weather throughout March is here again in 2013.

The summer codes are coming to an end and the smell of linament is in the air with the NRL having kicked off last week and the other major winter codes, Super Rugby is also underway and the AFL competition poised to start.

I love the professional codes of footy in winter. I live for my sport.

And the A-League is truly the summer sporting success in Australia nowadays, seriously it is dwarfing the cricket, in the summer, and the Wanderers’ rise from their birth last April to lead the competition is extraordinary.

But for me, I love to see the strength of junior and amateur sporting competitions are alive and well throughout Sydney’s south west and western suburbs.

There are a litany of sports across these regions and countless numbers of clubs, netball, little athletics, hockey, junior rugby league, rugby union, tennis, golf, swimming, AFL, and soccer just to name a few.

The southwest and western suburbs have always been strong sporting areas.

And the fact is, the highest level of the sport youngsters aspire too, eg: league kids aim for the NRL, soccer youngsters for the A-League have to start somewhere and that’s junior sport.

 I have been chatting with many sporting clubs in recent weeks and the administrators report to me a steady growth and rise in the number of registrations.

Southern Districts Soccer Football Association has 34 clubs and more than 11,000 registered players from the Liverpool and Fairfield communities.

They start competitions on April 6.

Liverpool City Netball Association at Woodward Park, Liverpool, has two new clubs joining this year and 1700 registered players.

Southern Districts Soccer Football Association is one of the biggest and strongest in NSW.

Back in the day, the association counted a young Harry Kewell among its legion of junior soccer players. The champion Socceroo played youth league with Marconi Stallions as a teenager. He also played for Smithfield Hotspurs. Kewell has often credited in interviews about his memorable time as a junior player and stated how important grass-roots sport was to him and the opportunities it provided.

Trees start as saplings and grow.

So it’s a simple argument if there are no junior sporting nurseries then our professional competitions don’t exist.

I would like to see more local companies and community groups get involved with local sporting clubs.

Sporting clubs and groups not only comprise children and adults playing.

There are also many people who volunteer their time to help out either as coaches, managers, administrators, treasurers, gear stewards, ground managers, even people marking the field or manning the the canteen and cleaning up after games.

We need more and more of these conscientious people to ensure the clubs not only survive but grow.

The problem with people involved these days is they are so busy with work, their lives and their families. Many people are now time poor and can’t help out. We must encourage people somehow to get them involved.

As a junior league coach myself I manage to make the time twice a week to run training sessions and on Saturday afternoons in winter coach the kids at games. I get a real buzz out of coaching footy and being a part of a sporting club and trying to have a positive influence on their lives. After all when I was a kid I had many coaches who were good enough to to give their time and help me.

I have never forgotten how they took time out of their own lives for the betterment of others.

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