Junior Sports: Where Can They Play?

Just over a year ago I was asked to help out with a junior girls soccer team as an assistant coach. Since I stopped playing the world game I had thought about moving into a coaching role. I always thought it would be with a boys team. However as my girls developed an interest in the game and I knew the head coach I thought it was time to dip my toes and see if I was cut out for coaching. After a few games the head coach resigned and I was thrown in as head coach. To say I was thrown into the deep end was an understatement. Here I was an inexperienced coach, coaching kids who for the majority of them had never kicked a ball in their life. Fast forward to now where I have committed for a second season, the girls started to win some games and I have now completed FFA approved coaches courses to increase my knowledge of the game.


Being part of the sporting grassroots community you notice things you would not know about after watching elite sports for the past decade. The big issue is lack of sporting grounds and facilities not just for soccer, but pretty much all sports in this country. The club I coach has only been in existence for a couple of years, but has grown to have 450 players on their books and a waiting list of over 300 players. The club, however, does not have a home ground and plays and trains at various venues around the local area. Due to this most of the teams can only train once per week and when daylight savings finishes can only train for just over an hour. This can harm development and the chance for real bonding time with their team mates. Talking to other coaches at the coaches forums I have attended they have expressed the same frustration I have in not being able to have a suitable ground to train on. Even clubs with a home ground are restricted by their local council when they can use the ground.


Chatting to friends who coach in other sports are facing the same issue. The big problem is lack of space and a growing population. Governments (Federal, State and Local) are trying to strike a balance in selling land off for development or giving land to sporing clubs/organisations for much needed facilities. In a time where we are told our kids are getting fat and need to get off the couch. Where is the incentive if there are not enough sporting fields our kids can play at. Sport is a great tool that teaches kids the importance of learning new skills, teamwork and getting used to a pressured environment. Isn’t this a better investment than selling off land to a developer for a quick buck?



About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast


  1. ChrIs bracher says

    The issues of access that you allude to are in part a consequence of societal desire to live close to the cbd. I sympathise with you and have direct personal experience of the phenomenom, but in newer areas on the urban fringe where Metroplitan Planning Authority Precinct Structure Plans are applied, developers must rigourously comply with open space ( incluing Active sports zones) requirements to obtain Development Permits.
    Now clearly there are other wellness issues born of living in the outer burbs but equally there needs to be an acceptance that in a capitalist world, inner ‘burb commercial returns are always going to represent a planning pressure. So..ruthless as it sounds, tgere us a choice…..for many years families have made choices to live further away so that children in their growing years can benefit from increased access to open space and sport…and facility allocation is actually prescribed in tbe planning statute.
    Now if only this bloody Belgrave train will hurry up and get me to my leafy, spacious place of abode where the air is clean and sports ovals plentiful!!

  2. James Lang says

    As a coach of a girls junior cricket team in a recently established league in SA’s Mid North, it’s been a real eye opener as to the total lack of female changing room facilities, not just in my local area but across the state. I’d assume that it’s a similar tale interstate.

    The state government recently recognised that there a. Red for change with a special female facilities fund, but there’s such a long way to go. I’m hoping the major national sporting codes will also look to invest in helping communities access these types of facilities and make it easier for girls to come and play.

    I also agree, green space is a huge asset for a community be it for organised sport or for families to go down for a kick or a hit of their favourite games. With urban backyards shrinking its really important to make sure there’s plenty to of places for the kids to play.

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