It’s a mismatch. The defenders were so small, they looked so young compared to the forwards who stood next to them. Those forwards, they meant business. You could tell, just by the way they walked around space in front of goals. Confident.
It’s a bit weird. For the first time this year I’m going for the team that’s bigger, older and more experienced. Hard to say that about Under 6s, but that’s certainly what it looks like.
It’s the Auskick Gala day for Western Sydney. A few hundred kids, parents and siblings have gathered at Blacktown for some skills and Round Robin games. The U9s and U10s will follow afterwards. It’s all about learning how to play and having fun. No one is keeping score, except the kids.
There are six boys on the team. Two up front, two midfielders and two defenders. It’s the end of the second season for most of them. Over the past few months they’ve been building their skills. They follow the ball and put it on the toe. A few of them are marking. They hug the ball like a teddy bear to their chest.
My son loves playing forward, so he was happy to be given the bib with the “F” on it first. He and his mate had been kicking goals all season, and up against the little defenders it really wasn’t pretty. They put on six. At least the other team’s midfield were competitive and got the ball down the back a few times from the bounce, but not very often.
Siren sounded and along came another team. A bit older, bit bigger. There was less of a physical mismatch in the forward zone this time, but we had a natural footballer up front. He wants to play AFL when he grows up and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. My boy was down back – which he doesn’t like – but he kicked in better than Curtly Hampton. He and his mate were a pretty solid wall… it helped with some of the kids on the other team deciding that the aim was to ignore the ball when kicked to you. The result certainly underlined the importance of service from your midfield.
The two easy games were followed by a team that had turned up to play. Similar size and similar ability. And a kid who loved to run. So much for setting boundaries for children, this one was having none of it. Over the boundary he ran, running back into the field of play coming in between the goal and behind posts, only to turn, kick and spectacularly miss everything.
Our forwards were having a few wobbles too. A tight, low scoring game, but our boys steadied first and kicked two unanswered goals towards the end. Siren sounds and we all pick up our gear, and traipse off to the presentation area.
No trophies, no prizes, just G-Man coming to say hi and getting the biggest cheer of the morning.
Most of the kids there today are in classes where the majority of boys are playing soccer. The local newspapers are covering rugby league. These boys are in a minority but they don’t care. They’re learning and they’re having fun.
And the joy on their faces when they’ve worked out they’ve won is a pleasure to behold.