Wilcannia to Broken Hill and back every Saturday for soccer and friendships
A new U12 soccer team from Wilcannia has made an impressive debut, by being selected to play for the Celtic United Roo’s Soccer Club in the Broken Hill Soccer Association.
The team is focussed on maintaining school attendance for players, building friendships and having fun.
Nicholas King, an 11-year-old midfielder, said he was happy and excited to be selected but nervous along with the rest of the team.
‘I was the first one to be selected, but I didn’t want to go without my mates so I waited for them,’ Nicholas said.
The creation of the team is the talk of Wilcannia. Normally a rugby league focussed town, the western NSW community is both impressed with and proud of its new soccer team.
It has attracted a range of sponsors. Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation has provided the team’s shorts, socks and football boots. Wilcannia Golf Club has undertaken to organise a hoodie for each of the players and Wilcannia Roadhouse has supplied the team with water each weekend. The team’s shin guards were purchased by Wilcannia Safe House and the National Indigenous Australians Agency supplied the backpacks.
The team makes the 4-hour round road trip every week for games on a bus funded by the Australian Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS).
Since the competition began, the team has won 2 out of 4 games and the players have made a lot of friends.
‘I’ve made nearly 10 new friends. They are really nice,’ Nicholas said.
The team started with only male players but soon recruited 2 girls. The enthusiasm for the game is affecting school attendance, with player school attendance rates at between 90 - 100%.
Team members are forbidden to play if they are suspended or if they miss too many school days. The team trains twice a week which has increased player fitness levels, confidence and skill.
The long term future of the team looks secure due to the enthusiasm for the new Wilcannia Celtic United team and the 12 or so additional youth who turn out for training.
They want to be part of it too.