The nervous first-timer
As our AFL season gets underway, there is a lot of excitement among the returning kids – and a lot of parents preparing themselves for the chilly early starts of game day mornings!
But not all kids are feeling the love.
It is very common – and normal – for our first time Auskickers to feel nervous about starting a new sport, particularly if they don’t know much about AFL or have not played organised team sport previously.
As the Drummoyne Power Auskick Coordinator, each year I have a lot of conversations with parents of nervous kids, and have first hand experience with one of my own sons.
With my husband being from Adelaide, there was no question that our sons were going to play AFL. However, my eldest son hadn’t been exposed to AFL (TV or live) so really had no idea when we turned up to U5 pre-season a few years ago.
My son is naturally shy, and when his friend couldn’t make the first week, we had tears on the oval. He would only participate for half the time. The following week was the same (even though his friend was there). And the week after was the same! We just went along each week, and I stood nearby, so he could see me all the time, and encouraged him. I got involved with the activities when the coach needed help, so he could see I was a part of the action – and enjoying myself.
He slowly became more comfortable and confident and hasn’t looked back. He is now in U8s and loves AFL and his team mates.
Our story is very typical of many young kids joining us for the first time.
So, what can your Club do to help if your child is apprehensive about playing?
If your child has any friends in the same age group, then ask the Club if they can play in the same team. Most clubs are happy to accommodate these requests, recognising that footy is always more fun when you’re playing with your friends. Auskick coaches are friendly and gentle and will encourage your child to participate.
If your child is still unsure, then please just let them watch. Turn up each week so they can start to feel comfortable. Get yourself involved with the training drills and have fun with it, which will further encourage your child to have fun too. On the weekends, get outside and muck around with the footy. Make it fun and silly.
Auskick is a fantastic, non-contact team sport for children, so if your child is like mine, please persevere!
Once settled in, your child will have years of fun and friendship (as well as learning great team values and respect for coaches), and you will have years of enjoyment seeing their skills progress. Oh, the joy (and shock!) of seeing them take their first mark!