A LOCAL sporting club has spoken out about bucking the trend after dire statistics showed organised sport in bush communities was under threat.
The Kootingal and District Soccer Club has grown from nine teams in 2010 to a massive 28 teams in 2014 thanks to a “very dedicated” committee which promotes soccer to the smaller communities around Tamworth, head of junior development Noel Corney said.
He said the fact that Nundle had been able to form three soccer sides this year – under 6s, under 7s and under 8s – in addition to having other children play in the older age groups for Kootingal, was a “huge” accomplishment.
“This has been achieved through the hard work of a couple of dedicated people that live out that way, as well as the support of local businesses and community groups that have helped subsidise fees,” Mr Corney said.
“Over 30 children from Nundle and Woolomin area have taken advantage of the discounted fees and we are hoping that they really enjoy playing soccer this year and drag even more of their friends along next year.”
The findings of a study by the University of South Australia released last month revealed population shifts in regional towns were leaving gaping holes in sporting teams and jeopardising the viability of clubs.
The research also showed a lack of participants was impacting on health, with physical guidelines in rural communities failing to be met.
Mr Corney said small-sided games, which have been in place in junior soccer for a few years, have certainly helped smaller schools and communities establish their own sides, but self-promotion was integral to the club’s success.
“Our club promotes the games as one that all boys and girls can play, regardless of size, fitness or sporting ability,” Mr Corney said.
“So long as they are having fun with their friends and getting them off the couch for the weekend.
“The excitement seen on the players’ and the parents’ faces last weekend when they started playing the first round was absolutely fantastic and definitely worth the effort.”