Wanderers Visit Nepean Gala Day

CLOSE to 200 junior footballers converged on Cook Park, St Marys for the Small Sided Football gala day last weekend. The wide-eyed youngsters from clubs in the Nepean Association created a sea of colour with games played simultaneously across Cook Park’s three fields.

CLOSE to 200 junior footballers converged on Cook Park, St Marys for the Small Sided Football gala day last weekend. The wide-eyed youngsters from clubs in the Nepean Association created a sea of colour with games played simultaneously across Cook Park-s three fields.

Small Sided Football is a modified form of football, which is played on a mini field with no goalkeepers. Throughout the season, the Under 6-s and 7-s either play against other clubs with no points up for grabs or compete against other teams in their own club to remove the competitive element and focus on fun and development for juniors.

Nepean District Soccer Football Association (NDSFA) Operations Manager Linda Cerone said the knockout format of the gala day gave the kids a new test.

“A lot of clubs play in-house all season so it-s an opportunity for them to take part in a new challenge and use the skills they-ve learnt against new teams,” Ms Cerone said.

“The semi-final and final for both age groups will be played on our Nepean finals day on August 25 so they can feel the finals atmosphere which they don-t normally get.”

Teams from Penrith FC, Hazelbrook, Emu Plains and Glenmore Park will battle it out in the Under 6-s semi-finals while Blaxland, Hazelbrook, Penrith FC and Penrith RSL progressed to the penultimate round of the Under 7-s competition.

The gala day also allowed the Nepean Association-s latest crop of referees to gain some valuable experience. But they weren-t the men and women wearing black or yellow, they were ordinary club members.

“We have a system now where we encourage club members to take a referee course just to learn the ropes,” Ms Cerone added.

“That way if there isn-t an official referee available, at least the kids can still play with someone who has the skills and knows the rules.

“Our youngest referees are 14 and we are starting them with junior games so they get a taste of it but aren-t under too much pressure.”

Western Sydney Wanderers players Mark Bridge and Shannon Cole lent their expertise on the day, giving the juniors some playing tips and even playing against one of the teams after their opposition forfeited.

“I played under 12-s in the Nepean area, it-s pretty cool to have something in western Sydney that kids can aim so for they don-t have to go far from home if they want to play,” Bridge said.

“There is so much potential and so many participants in western Sydney.

“We went around watching the young kids play and there has been a lot of interest in our club which is positive.”