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The world game for little ones

With the most recent ABS statistics showing soccer as the second most popular sport for Australian children and football registrations in Queensland growing by 5% this year – double the national average – there’s no doubt this low-impact team sport is also a popular choice for parents. We caught up with Rebels FC assistant registrar Ian Fricke to discuss the benefits of the sport, how parents can get their little ones involved early, and learn a bit more about the Kirwan-based club.

“Elite players are certainly not the ultimate outcome we seek, rather the development of the individual participant’s gross motor skills in ball control, jumping, turning, balance, agility, movement and general coordination”

What are the benefits of football (soccer) for young children? Our entry level for kids is aged three to five years, which is the Subway Squirts program. It’s more about developing motor skills, self-esteem and social skills than anything else through fun, football game-based sessions; and it’s also a way to involve younger family members while their older brothers and sisters play scheduled matches. This program is run for nine weeks and introduces the very basics of the sport through different drills, practices and games. The total program consists of 50 activities, presented as fun exercises. The football itself is the main tool and is utilised as much as possible. Elite players are certainly not the ultimate outcome we seek, rather the development of the individual participant’s gross motor skills in ball control, jumping, turning, balance, agility, movement and general coordination. The program has a low participant-to-coach ratio to engage these young kids more.

How do the sessions evolve as kids get older? MiniRoos Club Football is the next step from Subway Squirts – it’s a smaller version of full football that provides boys and girls aged five to 11 years with a fun introduction to the world game. MiniRoos Club Football is all about having fun, learning new skills and making lifelong friends while playing in a team-based environment. Delivered by local clubs across Australia, MiniRoos Club Football provides opportunities for boys and girls of all abilities, shapes and sizes to play football.

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Why do you think the sport is growing in popularity? Football is a low impact team sport, which most parents like. With the modified rules and all of the benefits to children physically and socially, no wonder the sport is growing. Parents also love it because it’s a chance to interact and spend time with their kids and other members of the community; the sessions are time-friendly; there’s constant supervision of the children involved, and MiniRoos is conveniently operated at thousands of local clubs across the country, so it’s very accessible.

“You get involved because you want to support and encourage your children, but I’ve grown to love the ‘world game’ through my involvement at various levels, and I have made lifelong friendships”

How did you discover the sport and what do you love about it? I grew up playing rugby league, but when my son was turning six he wanted to play soccer. Then my daughter started playing and I was getting dragged along to various football games and carnivals – the rest is history! You get involved because you want to support and encourage your children, but I’ve grown to love the ‘world game’ through my involvement at various levels, and I have made lifelong friendships. Both of my kids have done quite well with their football too – they’ve both represented Townsville and North Queensland at various stages. I have held various roles over the years ranging from team manager and assistant coach to club registrar, chair of the NQ junior standing committee, committee member of Townsville Football and, more recently, team manager of the U14 Queensland Country Boys Football team – they competed at the National Championships at Coffs Harbour last year.

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Can you tell us a bit about the Rebels FC – some history and what ages can get involved? In 2013, the Rebels Football Club, formally Thuringowa City Rebels Soccer Club, celebrated its 40th Anniversary. A new era started in 2006, with the relocation of the clubhouse and grounds to its new home at Greenwood Park on Thuringowa Drive in Kirwan. The club’s always had very strong membership with a current count of over 50 junior teams. We also offer Fillies and Colts (under 16-18 years) teams, an open women’s team and four senior men’s teams in their respective competitions. The Rebels Football Club has a team in most, if not all, competitions offered by Townsville Football. The junior football season officially starts in early March every year, with games taking place at the Townsville Football Association’s grounds at Brolga Park in Murray and concludes with a Grand Final Day mid September.

What skills are needed to give football a go, both for kids and adults? A willingness to be part of a team and to have a go because it’s more about participation and fun.

Is it an affordable activity? Yes, and it’s good value for money; especially compared to some other sports that require a lot of gear.

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Important question: What’s the social side like? It’s not called the world game for nothing! Yes, it’s very social, particularly at our club where all our teams support each other. We have Intra Club World Cup Days for our junior teams and trivia nights for senior teams, just to name a few events.

Get involved

The Rebels FC’s Subway Squirts Program – a special initiative for three to five year olds – starts on May 1. This nine-week program must be booked prior to the start date, and can’t be joined once it’s kicked off, so book now if you’d like to secure a spot. There’s more information in our calendar here.

Also, the Rebels FC is always looking for new members, sponsors and people wanting to be part of a community-orientated sporting club: “No matter what your age or skill sets, I’m sure that we could find a job just right for you whether it be coaching, helping out in the canteen or being an active committee member,” Ian says. For more information, email [email protected].

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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