Soccer pitches around the region are being dominated by the presence of the youngest generation after the annual Miniroos program kicked off last Friday night.
Gambier Centrals, Blue Lake, Inter, Apollo and Millicent have all fielded young teams across the Under 6’s, 8’s and 11’s grades.
It is the perfect introduction to the world game and has been played in the region since 2013.
Gambier Centrals Miniroos coordinator Danae Fleetwood said the program is all about participation and enjoyment.
“Miniroos is for boys and girls aged four to 11 and is just about having fun and getting kids used to the sport and enjoying themselves,” she said.
“There are no premierships, it is just about getting out there, being active and developing a love for sport at a young age.”
Every Friday night the teams play one game each with Under 6’s and 8’s starting at 6pm playing 20-minute halves.
Meanwhile, the Under 11’s get to play under lights from 7pm across a pair of 25-minute halves.
Fleetwood said the beauty of the program was its flexibility, opening the sport up to youngsters.
“We start in Under 6’s and at that age there are only four players on the pitch so they get to run around with the ball without goalies, so it is just about touching the ball as much as possible and we progress it each grade from there,” she said.
“A goalie is introduced in the next age group Under 8’s, while Under 11’s starts to prepare them for the full game.”
Looking back at the opening night of the ninth edition of Miniroos, Fleetwood said she was pleased with how things transpired after welcoming some new faces.
“We had beautiful weather for the first night and lots of people came out to watch,” she said.
“We have lots of new kids trying it out for the first time with around 20 of the 60 players first timers.
“We are still looking for some players in Under 8’s and 6’s but it is definitely growing which is great.
“They (the kids) are loving it, getting the chance to have a sausage, seeing their friends and family play as well.
“It creates a nice little environment on a Friday night.”
The Miniroos program runs every Friday until the end of May with each team playing eight games across the season.