Posted in Uncategorised

By Ben Pollard  

For the first time since 1990, an Ashwood junior football team took to its home field for an SMJFL match on Sunday.

The Under 9 Magpies may have been three players short of a full team, but that didn’t matter to the people who laboured long and hard to resurrect the club’s junior presence.

Ashwood Junior Football Club secretary Dale Wain said some members of the Ashwood Sports Club had a tear in their eye when the juniors finally ran out at Essex Heights Reserve once again.

It took more than two decades for the Ashwood area to foster a new generation of young families with enough kids to form a junior football team, but the time arrived last year.

Along with president Tim Lee and coaching coordinator Tim Elliott, Ms Wain played a pivotal role in building what the SMJFL terms an “organic” team.

“They keep referring to us as organic because we’ve started from Auskick,” she said.

“A lot of our kids, when they played junior footy, were getting separated among a lot of schools, so we wanted them to play together as mates.”

“Because of that, we approached the football club and said we’d like to start up the Auskick program to lead into juniors.”

After a lot of marketing, the Ashwood Auskick program kicked off in 2011 with 70 participants, a number that has risen to 75 this year.

Ms Wain said the participation rate ensured that Ashwood would field junior teams into the future.

“Our prep and kinder groups at Auskick have doubled in size from last year when we had about 15. Now we’ve got about 35 so they’re just going to keep coming through.”

“Our plan is to have two Under 9 teams for next year, or an Under 9s and Under 10s.”

Ms Wain said the older generation of Ashwood had become closer because of their connection to the new junior team, but perhaps more importantly, so had the Under 9 Magpies themselves.

“They’re really keen. They love the uniform; they love every aspect of it, even getting up early in the mornings.”

“They can’t wait until the next game.”