New skills and memories is what the young girls from Raymond Terrace Soccer Club left a school holiday training session with but for its organisers, it is hoped the fun event will keep them in the game longer.
After seeing the surge in young girls signing up to play with the Terrace club this season, Northern NSW Football’s female participation officer Holly Ayton ran the session at King Park for 50 of the club’s female Mini Roos – players aged between 6 and 11.
“Only 22 per cent of player participation across the whole of Northern is female so we’re trying to increase that,” she said.
“To do that, we have to provide safe and fun environment for them to take up the sport. Girls particularly when they get to that teenage age don’t feel comfortable trying new sports.
“If we introduce it to them young they understand the game a little bit more and feel familiar with it. It’s a way to keep them participating in the sport because at the end of the day we want them to be active.”
The Terrace club fielded one girls team two seasons ago and two last year.
This year, however, it had enough girls sign up to field four teams – under-7, 8, 9 and 10s.
“With the Mini Roos, it’s critical to secure numbers at this level,” Raymond Terrace Soccer Club registrar Hayden Carter said.
“If you struggle to get numbers in the 9 and 10 age groups in two years time you won’t have a 12 years’ team to enter when it comes to the competition level.”
About 10,000 juniors joined the Mini Roos program across Australia this year, of which 30 per cent were girls.
Football Federation Australia’s head of community, football development and women’s football, Emma Highwood, said football was increasingly the choice of parents with young children because it was fun, safe, accessible and genuinely inclusive.
“Football has been a trailblazer for women’s sport in Australia and we are seeing the impact of this with the number of girls taking up the game. And of course having the Socceroos and Matildas competing in World Cups is also inspiring kids to play football,” she said.