Football unites regional NSW communities

It was a phone call from Mossgiel local Laura Stalley to Football NSW a couple of months back about obtaining equipment to ensure kids from Booligal, Mossgiel, Hillston, Clare and Ivanhoe all had the opportunity to experience the world game as well as assisting in her coaching program that brought a smile to many faces that really pushed the meaning of our sport connecting people.

The main player behind this, Stalley got the ball rolling, introducing a football program to as many as twenty kids aged from 3 years to 11, with some families travelling a whopping 100km just to take part in enjoying the game of football.

“The numbers did vary from week to week as to what was happening on their farms such as shearing or mustering.

“We had children attending from Booligal, Mossgiel, Hillston, Clare and Ivanhoe.

“Although that seems like a huge community area, this is a farming community with large distances between farms.

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“Football or soccer as the children know it is not very well known in our area. The children know what soccer is, but the closest club from Mossgiel would be 160km away so it was a great way to introduce the sport to them.”

It was the success of a cricket program that prompted the kids to further engage in other sports with Football being the pick of the bunch.

“After seeing how successful Woolworths Blast Cricket was and how much fun the children were having, we wanted to continue another sporting program.

“Football is a great team sport to play as well as providing excellent hand/eye and foot work co-ordination.

“We got in touch with Football NSW and told them about these kids from the bush who love learning new sports and play in a paddock.

“Football NSW were so supportive and generous and sent us the equipment that we needed.”

Stalley stated that parents of the participants also got involved in the coaching side of things as they also assisted in the running of the football program setting up drills as well as cooking a BBQ dinner for everyone involved.

The overall reaction to the program was priceless as Football was certainly the winner not just with the youngsters involved but with their parents as well.

“For the children this has been great socially, mentally and physically.

“Many of these children attend small schools or School of the Air, so social interaction is so important for their development and social skills. Many of these children do not attend weekly weekend sport due to the distances they have to travel.

“This program was not just about the children, but also the parents as well.

“Earlier in the year we were all suffering from severe drought, and the idea of the program was to get Dad’s away from the farm and spending time with their children. So for the parents, this program has been so important to their social and mental health.

“We have had to make some changes to this due to COVID-19 but at this stage we are just happy to be able to provide this for the children.”

Stalley had nothing but praise for Football NSW in particular Cameron Whitton and Kevin Guardado Amaya who assisted in getting the equipment required to kick off the program.

“Football NSW provided us with resources such as balls, cones and portable nets as well as coaching resources.

“We were also provided with some merchandise to give to the children which the children cannot wait to get their hands on.

“We are so grateful for the support Football NSW has provided us, without this, we would not have been able to offer this opportunity to the children.”

Fantastic to see the power of football at play assisting in keeping those smiles beaming, congrats to all involved.