Indigenous soccer boom

GIPPSLAND was well represented at this year’s Aboriginal Youth Football Tournament with nine Latrobe Valley Boorun teams competing in the annual competition run by Football Federation Victoria at the State Football Centre in Thornbury recently.

The Budjeri Napan Sports Committee coordinated the teams from Gippsland and assisted to transport more than 60 young people to Melbourne to participate.

Each player was given a uniform and showbag from FFV and had a chance to meet some of the A-League stars.

Local spokesperson Terry Burgess said it was great to have an opportunity to play soccer at state level and the event had grown each year.

“When we started four years ago, we only had a few young people come down for a kick around, the next year we had three teams.

“Last year five teams and this year it is amazing to have nine teams representing the Latrobe Valley in both boys and girls,” Burgess said.

“With assistance of Mark Cassar from FFV, we have been running a four week training program to develop players skills.

“We have a range of skill levels involved, from young people that play in local clubs to those have a kick for the first time.”

Budjeri Napan Committee member Neal Daly, the main instigator for the program, said it was fantastic to encourage young people to be active and to get involved with events like these.

“It’s not just about competing and having fun, the event also provides a range of other benefits around healthy lifestyles, including healthy eating and social benefits of being engaged with the wider community,” Daly said.

The under 10 and under 14 boys finished runner-up in their respective age groups, and Liam Mobourne won the golden boot and best overall player award in the under 14 division.