The 2015 football season was a dark time for Canterbury & Districts Soccer Football Association’s Lakemba Sports Club with only one junior team and a few volunteers.
There was a real risk that the club would fold, leaving the relationship between the club and the Canterbury & Districts Soccer Football Association (CDSFA) in a poor state.
Now, as 2018 is comes to an end, Lakemba Sports Club’s reputation has undertaken a tremendous U-turn through an emphasis on building trust between the multicultural community in the local area.
This initiative has in turn led to a better relationship between the club and CDSFA, while introducing a management committee that can handle the work involved in running a community club that now has both a clubhouse and canteen that is being used to drive more funding towards grassroots football activities.
The recently completed ALDI MiniRoos Kick-Off program at Parry Park is a prime example of the new identity the club has been able to depict for itself in the community.
The program saw 206 participants, aged 4-11 years, actively engaged in weekly introductory sessions for a 10-week program.
Impressively, out of this group, only 60 were existing players from the club and 146 were new participants to football, with some of these children experiencing their first step into any type of organised participation in sport within the local area.
Lakemba Sports Club were able to achieve this success through the support of CDSFA, Football NSW and FFA through the funds provided to them by the Multicultural Communities Grant which sponsored 100 participants’ program costs. This financial support allowed the club to use the funds for extra equipment, field hire and to promote continued participation in football to the recently arrived communities.
Another notable and impressive statistic from the above ALDI MiniRoos engagement was the introduction of girls to the club.
Lakemba Sports were able to attract more than 40 new female participants to the program and a further 4 female coaches.
The new ALDI MiniRoos For Girls initiative from the FFA allows girls to share smiles with their friends whilst learning to play football in a safe and engaging environment with positive female role models. With this in mind, Lakemba Sports Club now expect to re-introduce female teams into winter football; something that hasn’t been part of the club for more than 15 years.
The ability of the club to engage with the local community is possibly most evident through their “Next Gen” program, which targets the youth in the area to assist them with developing a base of necessary skills, building confident young men and women through coaching and leading in the community.
The senior coaches and managers assist in identifying the youth that have the potential, on and off the pitch, to take on more roles and responsibilities both in the club and the community.
This initiative was on show during the ALDI MiniRoos Kick-Off program with the majority of coaches being Juniors from the club (13 boys and 3 girls), and 9 adults who worked closely with CDSFA’s Technical & Game Development Manager Andrew Morris to develop their leadership and coaching skills.
With 62% of coaches aged between 11 and 15 years old, it is evident that the Next Gen program is leaving a positive impact on the youth in the community by promoting various areas of the football landscape; coaching, playing, refereeing, volunteering and administration.
Eleven-year old Ghazi Mahajna is a prime example of how ALDI MiniRoos and the Next Gen coaching program positively impacts the lives of young people. Ghazi is the youngest coach at Lakemba Sports Club, taking on the role of under 5s ALDI MiniRoos Game Leader for one of the club’s teams. Since he has taken the coaching role, he has grown in confidence giving him the ability to continue striving for excellence and most recently running for School Captain at his local primary school. Football NSW congratulates Ghazi for his efforts in showcasing the power of football to his school audience.
With all the mentioned initiatives running at the club, the 2019 season is looking to be even more successful with more ALDI MiniRoos being introduced to football at club level, more female playing opportunities, more juniors getting involved in coaching, and more community leaders becoming involved in the club as volunteers and committee members.
The club has now appointed a Club Coach Coordinator (CCC), an FFA endorsed initiative, to better assist all the coaches in the club and assist with achieving accreditations for all coaches in the club.
The club will also be introducing walking groups and table tennis for parents; completing the full circle of engagement with people of all ages and backgrounds in the community.
The day before the last ALDI MiniRoos Kick-Off session, FFA and Football NSW invited the community from Lakemba Sports Club and neighbouring Australian National Sports Club to the farewell of Tim Cahill at the Caltex Socceroos vs Lebanon match at ANZ.
Approximately 170 people attended the game with 114 children being involved in either the march past on the field, as player mascots, or playing at half-time as ALDI MiniRoos Half-Time Heroes.
With many of the children in the community having never experienced a live match before, this was a thrilling experience that will stay in their memory for a long time.
In summary the 2018 Summer ALDI MiniRoos Kick-Off program allowed the club to:
- Re-ignite female football in the area, with more than 40 girls enjoying their first experience in football.
- Strengthen the ties between the local club and the local community.
- Gain more exposure and collaborate closely with CDSFA and Football NSW.
- Provide once in a lifetime experiences for participants at the Caltex Socceroos match.
- Provide valuable experience to young Juniors in the club through a coaching mentorship program.
The vision and mission of Lakemba Sports Club and the CDSFA was nicely summed up by CDSFA CEO Ian Holmes.
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