Football – A fun, healthy, safe and value for money sport for your daughter or son, and here’s why:
- Approximately 185,000 children will play Small-Sided Football in Australia each year
- If your child is turning 5 years old (or older) on or before the last day of the year, they can register with FFA, join a club and play Small-Sided Football in that year
- Small-Sided Football is not a program, instead, it is a modified version of the adult game designed especially for children, who have very different developmental characteristics and social needs from adults
- The philosophy of Small-Sided Football is on enjoyment and freedom of expression, through playing the game, with limited emphasis on coaching per se. It is all about the children!
- The formats of Small-Sided Football are designed so that children are challenged as they progress through the age groups and formats, 4-a-side, 7-a-side and 9-a-side, preparing them for 11-a-side football at the Under 12 age group
- Small-Sided Football is delivered by clubs throughout Australia through the winter months. There would generally be between 15 to 20 weeks of matches on either a Saturday or a Sunday, plus a training session during each week throughout that period. On average, players will be involved in around 30 sessions (including game days) each season
- Whilst prices do vary between clubs, the average cost per session/game is just $7, which compares more than favourably with other sport and activity options for primary school aged children.
- Playing Small-Sided Football also provides the following benefits for participants:
- Accessibility for all, as it is truly aimed at children of all abilities, not simply the most talented
- With the removal of the emphasis on winning, children are much more likely to enjoy their football experience
- More fun and enjoyment, due to smaller fields and simplified rules
- More playing time, which maximises individual participation and involvement
- Far more repeated touches of the ball by ALL players on the field
- More shots on goal, and
- More involvement leads to greater improvements in fitness
What parents say about Small-Sided Football
In a 2011 survey:
- 97% of parents stated that their child enjoyed playing Small-Sided Football
- 97% of parents believed their child actively participates when playing Small-Sided Football
- 92% of parents believed their child’s ability and technique improved during the 2011 Small-Sided Football season
How do I choose a grassroots club for my child?
From March 2012, FFA will be rolling out the National Club Accreditation Scheme, which aims to assist grassroots clubs in raising their standards on and off the field. Participating clubs will be recognised with a 1 star to 4 star rating based on themes such as governance, coaching, inclusiveness, safety, child protection and promoting positive behaviour. In addition to looking for a clubs rating, parents should consider the following:
- Cost of registration
Whilst the average fee for a junior player in Australia is around $200 per season, there is some variation between clubs as there can be considerable differences between their individual circumstances. For example:
- some Local Councils charge for ground hire, whilst others do not
- some clubs incorporate weekly referees fees within their registration fees, whilst others do not
- some provide more than others, in terms of apparel, quality of coaching etc
- the size of the club and therefore ability to generate revenue from fees can be very different
That said, if you believe that the advertised price is excessive, it is always best to ask where the money goes and what benefits the clubs provides, especially if it is significantly more than neighbouring clubs.
- Club philosophy
Do you feel like the club provides a positive environment for players and their parents? Are players of all backgrounds and ability levels welcomed at the club? Do club officials, coaches and managers ensure that children are able to enjoy their football experiences without undue pressure, shouting from the sidelines as well as an excessive emphasis on winning?
The Optus Small-Sided Football Handbook provides information on the way in which football should be delivered by clubs to ensure a positive playing experience for children. Parents are encouraged to refer to this resource and make their own assessment on whether they believe the environment is appropriate for their child.
To read the Optus Small-Sided Football PDF Handbook please click here
- Focus on safety/risk management
Is there a focus within the club on providing a safe playing and training environment for players? This will include having club members trained in first-aid, adequately stocked first-aid kits being readily accessible and clubs carrying out match day inspections aimed at preventing injuries to players as well as harm to others present at the venue.
For further information on risk management please click here
- Accredited coaches
FFA has in place a comprehensive coach education pathway for community coaches. Age-appropriate courses are available so that individuals are able to acquire the knowledge most relevant to the group of players they are working with. The key focus of these courses is on how to run safe and enjoyable training sessions.
It is wise to find out how many coaches within a club are accredited as well as whether the club promotes the importance of and access to the community coach education pathway.
For further information on community coach education please click here
- Club management/organisation
Does the club have a committee who meet on a regular basis including conducting an Annual General Meeting? Are the voluntary roles within the club filled and clearly defined? Having an effective committee in place is absolutely critical to ensure the club is well organised which will in turn contribute to a positive experience for all members.
Remember that clubs are almost always run by dedicated volunteers so one way of ensuring that the club is well organised is to volunteer your own time!
To find out more about the National Club Accreditation Scheme please click here
- Child Protection
It is obviously most important that children are in a safe environment when joining a football club. All clubs must adhere to the FFA Member Protection Policy and ensure that any adult working with children in roles such as coach or manager must have undertaken the appropriate working with children checks, in line with the relevant Child Protection legislation in each state or territory.
To view the FFA Member Protection Policy please click here