AN INVERCARGILL football club is making a push to develop its junior team as a way to support the community and ensure the lifeblood of the club.
Southend United AFC has been running “have a go” events during the past month, in an effort to connect children with football.
Club president Sam Flannery said the events were important as one of the main focuses of the club this year was developing its junior team.
“Last year we had a big reunion, with many former members. That was great, but we need the future.
“In recent years we’ve seen our junior team die a bit so we decided to have this drive to reinstate [it]. Especially because children from this part of town could have this opportunity.”
Flannery, who has been playing football since his childhood, said the sport had helped him throughout his life.
“My boys are getting older and I wanted them to grow up as part of a club as I did. I used to live around the corner and this was my second home where I spent a lot of time, met a lot of friends.
“It gave me a sense of independence and responsibility with the games and practises.”
Flannery said in the past children used to make fun of him because he was not as interested in rugby as others.
“I think there has been an increase in the popularity [of football] in the region in recent years. People are more favourable to play the sport – at least it is less embarrassing than it was during my day, ” he said, with a laugh.
Southland Football development and operations manager Iain Walker agreed.
He said being part of a football team was great for children’s physical and mental well-being.
With social media and the Covid-19 pandemic, sport became a very important tool for children to get out and make friends, he said.
“It is good socially, for well-being and just for kids to have some fun.
“These important to allow kids to try something new as rugby and netball have been the main options for many years.”
Invercargill resident Glyn Armitstead brought his children to last week’s event.
“I’m always encouraging them to try to do something new and fun. I took them to try table tennis and other things but I feel they will enjoy playing football.
“I always take them out to the park and they love to play with the ball.”
He was pleased the club was promoting the events for children in the community as it was important for them to socialise in a fun and relaxed environment.
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