Disadvantaged kids in Canberra’s north will this season have the opportunity to play weekend soccer for free, thanks to a generous offer by Mount Majura Football Club.
The club is the first in Canberra to provide children of families supported by The Smith Family with free registration, boots, socks and shirts for the upcoming Winter soccer season. Ten children from five families have taken up the offer so far.
Majura Football Club president Neil Sharwood says the club’s priority is to build a community where everyone feels welcome and can participate, regardless of economic circumstance.
“We went through our strategic planning and looked at where we wanted to be. We didn’t want kids missing out on soccer because their families couldn’t afford it. These kids might be great soccer players and it would be a crime if they never got to reach their full potential because the fees and uniform were too expensive,” he says.
“Anything we can do to make it easier to get kids involved in sport, if there are barriers that we can remove so that families can participate in our community, we’ll do it.”
Junior soccer registration fees at the club cost between $145 and $200, while boots and uniforms can add another few hundred dollars per child. Neil says that Mount Majura Football Club has put in some of its own funds to cover the costs, but is grateful for the support of Capital Football (which waived its part of the registration fee) and other sponsors.
“Nobody knows that these kids are playing for free except for our administrative officer,” Neil adds.
The Smith Family program coordinator Bill Caddey says he is hopeful that other Canberra sporting clubs will offer to cover registration and uniform costs for disadvantaged children in their area.
“It’s great to see a club step forward to lend a hand and give these kids an opportunity to engage in the community. Of course we’d like to see other clubs get involved too,” he says.
He says he doesn’t want to see children miss out on sporting opportunities because their families can’t afford registration fees, and has called on clubs to assist.
“If it weren’t for weekend sport many children will spend all day on the couch watching TV and not engaging with the community. It’s a powerful connector.
“One of the families we work with is a single mum with five kids. She says that the only way to keep the family together is for the kids to play rugby league on Saturdays and rugby union on Sundays, but you can imagine how fast the expenses add up.”
If you are involved in local sport and would like your club to support disadvantaged children in your community, please email Bill Caddey at The Smith Family – firstname.lastname@example.org.