The Auskick Files – Week 2

The siren sounds and 200 little scallywags charge towards the microphone to secure their patch of dewy grass to sit on. When you are five-years-old you don’t care about a wet bottom. In fact you don’t care about much at all. As long as mum cuts the crusts off his vegemite sandwiches, all is essentially good in the world of Jack William Dodson. A trip to Auskick does put some icing on the cake though.


Something unique to kick things off today, as we observe an Anzac Day ceremony. There is a reading followed by the playing of the Last Post by a talented youngster. I wonder what the scallywags make of it all. I assume the older primary school aged kids have an appreciation of the story and the significance of the day. The younger ones seem to sense something important is happening. A dignified and important way to start the day.


Today marks my first foray into the world of coaching. Lisa (the Commander and Chief of the Seddon Auskick Centre) hands me a whistle and a name tag and wishes me good luck. Perhaps Eddie McGuire may be going through the same process with another coaching hopeful sometime soon? Young Harry Dodson then grabs the whistle and puts the afterburners on. I should be able to catch a two-year-old relatively easy. Eight minutes later I have the whistle back.


Our Senior Coach Rob takes charge and assembles the group. Good numbers today. If I was in the Bulldogs marketing department I’d be here with the membership forms. Red, white and blue jumpers as far as the eye can see. I don’t think my Swans cap will win me much respect today, given the 0-5 start and last year’s Grand final demise. One little chap is dressed in Red and White, so I may be playing favourites today.


Rob is a veteran coach, the Kevin Sheedy of the Seddon Auskick Centre if you will. He started when his kids were young, and even though they have moved on, he has stayed and become a part of the furniture. That type of effort commands respect.


I don’t let the possession of the whistle go to my head and follow Rob’s direction and pitch in where I can. I’ve finished in the top 3% of the State in High School Economics, kept Cameron Mooney goalless in a game and managed to ‘bat way above my average’ in marrying Mrs D, yet I am stuffed if I can get a bunch of kids to assemble in three evenly numbered groups behind Witches Hats.


There are such different skill levels on display. Each child commands their own attention amongst the organised chaos. A good group of eager parents also pitch in and support throughout the activities. It is pretty cool to see one of the kids ‘master’ a skill you have just taught them – the Coaches reward!


Between drills Jack wants to practice his hip and shouldering and tackling with me. For some reason these are his favourite things to do when playing footy. I suspect he developed his hard edge from Mrs D. When Jack graduates to the under 9s I hope he can find a coach who employs taggers, otherwise he may need to re-invent himself.


The little scallywag does have one good trick to his bow though. As the number one card carrying member of the Jake Stringer Fan Club, Jack has practiced his around the corner goal kicking technique from dawn to dusk. As we watched Stringer kick a regulation set shot a few weeks back from 10 metres out directly in front, Jack was less than thrilled and demanded to know why his idol was kicking the ‘boring’ way?


I’m busily teaching young enthusiastic Hannah how to handball when I feel a tugging at my shorts. Harry has grown tired of watching big brother and wants in on the action. I can’t neglect my post so devise a compromise. Essentially I kick the ball 20 metres and implore Harry to chase, gather and return. Yes, that’s right, I am essentially playing fetch with my second born. I don’t think I’ll be putting in that nomination for Victorian Father of the Year today.


Jack has found a familiar face at today’s session. Jasper goes to Daycare with him and today they appear to be joined at the hip. A mateship is being formed. With a bit of luck Jack will meet some kids through Auskick that will go to Primary School with him as well.


The most popular activity for the day is, and I suspect always will be, goal kicking practice to finish the session. Kids with waning attention spans suddenly spring back to life and parents jostle in the square to gain possession of their offspring’s 12 metre tumble punts. Like a Las Vegas showman, Rob calls time on the day, leaving the kids wanting more.


I’m relieved and tired. I’ve learned today that coaching 20 five-year-olds takes a good dose of energy and patience, yet the rewards are bountiful. I’m not quite ready to take over from John Longmire, however, if the Swans are 0-10 come June then maybe I’ll take my nametag and whistle up to the Harbour City and give it a crack. With a bit of luck Buddy Franklin and Co will know how to line up behind a Witches Hat.


About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Great read Craig, thanks. Good to see ‘scallywag’ getting a workout.

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