Bendigo Advertiser Letters to the Editor: Bringing up the next generation of local footy players

Looking to the future: Golden Square players training. Picture: Darren Howe
Looking to the future: Golden Square players training. Picture: Darren Howe

Keep your eyes on the ball

I arrived at Wade Street football ground on Saturday morning (Golden Square Football Club’s home ground) at around 10am, looking forward to see Kangaroo Flat under-18 side take on The Square 18s. A top of the table clash.

As I approached the gate I could see the covers still on the pitch. I then inquired to the gate attendant as to what was happening. He replied that Golden Square had forfeited the game due to a lack of players.

I have been involved at the Kangaroo Flat Football Club as a player coach and supporter since the late ‘80s. The under-18s competition in the Bendigo Football League is hard work for most clubs. Maryborough and Castlemaine currently are unable to field teams. Tragically, Maryborough this year are unable to field an under-16s side. A direct result of three years without an under-18s side.

Kangaroo Flat in previous years had similar problems with player numbers, but through hard work we patched teams together. We used the permit system, included under-16s and contacted former players (regardless of talent level) to help out. I remember turning up with such a team in 2016 at Wade Street to play a Golden Square side sitting first or second on the ladder. We were defeated by well over 100 points.

Today we have a very talented under-18 side with good numbers due to what I can see as one of the best junior programs in Bendigo Football. 

Golden Square under-18s beat Kangaroo Flat at the beginning of the year. All Pioneers representatives were available to play at their local clubs that weekend. Golden Square had four elite players from Mildura, all part of the Pioneers program. All placed at the one club. This meant that four local boys out of their past junior programs would miss a game of footy and perhaps went looking for a game elsewhere. Golden Square now finds itself through injuries and no depth being unable to field a team. They included outside talent with no real investment in the club at the expense of local players. Maybe this is a snapshot of country football everywhere.

Local football clubs should be focused more on community and inclusion of local youth than just chasing talent to win

Jason Pearse

Local football clubs should be focused more on community and inclusion of local youth than just chasing talent to win. A football side of individuals who see themselves as part of the local community and belonging to something is what I believe you can call success, even if you don’t win the game. But when you do win it means something.

I was proud on Saturday watching the senior Kangaroo Flat football team with four of the 2016 under -18 team compete against Golden Square. Four local players that went week after week being well beaten. These young men would have been lost to the club if we hadn’t fought and scraped teams together through that season. As well as another four playing reserves the game before. We lost the game but I could sense that the club was moving in the right direction.

Local country football clubs should not only rate themselves on how well the elite talented young men and women perform and progress but on how they develop, improve and include the less talented individual that makes up the fabric of the club.  

So Golden Square don’t take your eye of what is most important. You have been a very successful club over many years. Please make it mean something.

Jason Pearse, Ravenswood

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