Beach Auskick launched at Fingal Beach

BIG HIT: A new initiative combining the beach with the AFL Auskick program has been met with a positive reception in Port Stephens. Picture: Supplied
BIG HIT: A new initiative combining the beach with the AFL Auskick program has been met with a positive reception in Port Stephens. Picture: Supplied

Fingal Beach is the venue for a national first program which could take off across the state.

Beach Auskick has been running for two weeks at Fingal Beach and was the brainchild of Craig Golledge, AFL ACT/NSW development manager for the Hunter-Central Coast.

The new concept merges two of the community’s popular pastimes together – sport and the beach.

“It was just something I thought of, being a Newcastle boy myself. The two favourite pastimes here are sport and the beach … so I came up with the concept,” Golledge said.

The program is running Friday afternoons for five weeks and started on February 24.

“After one day, I was classing it as a major success, just on the fact that we got 50 kids turning up to the first session,” Golledge said.

The newly designed program uses many aspects of the basic Auskick program, which aims to make learning to play Aussie Rules fun for boys and girls aged five to 10, as its base.

In Auskick, kids learn fundamental movement skills during weekly sessions as well as social skills through interacting with other children as part of teams and small group activities.

Golledge combined the traditional Auskick program with beach-themed activities as well as beach safety talks by Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club. The AFL pack each child receives when signing up for the program also has a beach theme with an Auskick beach towel included.

“We wanted to tie in as many beach-themed activities as possible as well as including the local surf-lifesaving club,” he said.

“The local surf club president is coming along each week to talk about beach safety for the last five minutes of every session.”

Golledge hoped the success of the pilot program at Fingal Beach would start a wave of enthusiasm across NSW for Beach Auskick.

“We’re hoping after running it at Fingal Beach that it gets approved and continues to be trialled across the Hunter and Central Coast region; that’s our aim to make it such a big success that the entire coast of NSW gets a chance to run this program,” he said.

The program was six months in the making. Initial talks with Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club president Brett Woods proved fruitful with the club immediately approving the program at their beach.

“Brett and the Fingal Beach surf club as well as volunteers from the local nippers have been very supportive of the program and can obviously see the benefits of building a relationship between themselves and the local AFL community,” Golledge said.

“Through this relationship we are hoping not only to boost player numbers for the local Nelson Bay Junior AFL club but also the local nippers program.”