Almanac art (pen and ink): Sunday’s Game


Yesterday it was my eight year old son’s last Home and Away game for this, his first season of Under 9 junior footy.

Whilst it was his first season playing, it was in fact, not my first season as a footy mum. My first foray into junior football began in 2002 with my older boys. I have just calculated thirteen consecutive seasons and I can see no reprieve in the near future. Surely it’s time for my graduation?

One of the striking things about junior footy is the level of involvement that is required by the parents. Unlike other junior sporting activities where, yes, you need a coach and a manager and maybe someone to score, football requires a much larger cast to keep each game in production every weekend.

For those not familiar with the routine of Sunday Morning Junior Footy….the parents are as much part of the game as the kids are. This is a game that operates in much the same way as a theatrical work in that it has many roles to be filled. From the coach or the director, supporting roles, right through to the persons backstage in the canteen. It goes without saying, there is an audience and there are characters.

Back in 2002, thirteen seasons ago, I was in all honesty confronted by the level of commitment required. I was challenged too by the 8am starts on cold and wet Sunday mornings with sleepy eight year olds who just looked too small to be playing. I was challenged by the fact that I had to participate and wear a bib with my job description written on it in capital letters.

The bibs I refer to pull on over ones clothes. They tie up with elastic just above one’s hips, they are not becoming to one’s appearance, nor are they comfortable. They are reminiscent of school sports days in the 70’s.

With the ebbs and flows of many seasons past, I have navigated my way through these demands, juggling more than one game at a time, a coaching husband, smaller children and a burning wish to have nothing on on a Sunday. However, I have also seen local kids grow and develop into adulthood. I have seen fathers and their sons (mainly), mothers and their sons and families playing and working together as a community.

As this season comes to an end I look forward to watching next weeks under 9 grande finale, the Lightening Premiership, even if it’s cold and wet and even if I have to wear one of those bibs.

All is good.

Here is the list of job descriptions on the current batch of bibs-

  • the white lab coat for the goal umpire

and ones that could yet be allocated-

  • Timekeeper
  • Oranges
  • Snakes
  • Canteen first half
  • Canteen second half


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    Congratulations on your years of service Kate. It is a rewarding past-time. Team Manager must be the most difficult role – allocating the tasks and ensuring they are done. There is also so much compliance with team sheets to be signed and match reports to be completed. I spent a number of years as club-umpire which was at times wonderful and at times my worst experience in sport. My wife Helen is still trainer for our youngest boy’s team. We don’t span 13 years however.


    Water (boys/carriers)
    Set-up/pack-up depending on the time of day


  2. Kate

    I know what you mean. Like Andrew, add water carrier, set up and also, a designated Ground Manager. We also have a proper first aid person on hand at all home games.

    I was conned into being Team Manager in my son’s first year of footy, told it was just the odd e-mail and loading in the scores. Little did I know, did it for two years. Countries have gone to war with less planning than an U11 match. Getting 24 11 year olds to sign their name before a game!!

    Some dad’s couldn’t do the boundary due to dodgy knees, make sure all tasks got rotated, parents in different places due to more than one kid playing at different grounds!

    Having said that, some of the best times I’ve had and great friends I have made have been through this. I wish you a continuing amount of fun and challenge doing the games


  3. Kate Birrell says

    Hi Sean and Andrew

    I knew I was bound to leave out a couple of tasks. Not to mention all the background people doing alot of the hard work on the committees.

    The funny thing was once I started writing I realised I had to pull back……there was so much more that I could have expanded upon.

    For another day perhaps.


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