Melville City grapples with growing pains
MELVILLE City Football Club has turned players away for the first time in its 47-year history as it grapples with the surging popularity of the round-ball sport.
More than 400 people flocked to the club’s open day last month and current membership is now in excess of 1350.
Melville City is already the largest soccer club in Perth, but president Dave Kindness believes it could grow by up to 200 players in 2016 if not for a shortage of playing fields.
“We’re working with the council, and local schools and various organisations, to try to get access to more grounds, but at this stage we’ve had to cap certain age groups because we’re just full,” he said.
“The growth in the younger age groups has been quite phenomenal and that is starting to flow through to our older sides.”
Kindness attributes that growth partly to Australia’s growing reputation on the world soccer stage and partly to Melville City’s policy of staging only intra-club games for its youngest players.
“All of our kids in the four-to-nine age groups play on a Saturday morning and it is all in-house,” he said.
“We had to fight Football West to set it up that way, but our belief is that having to travel and play all over the place is a little traumatic for the young kids and just not necessary.
“One of the other things that has made a huge difference was Australia winning the Asian Cup last year and also the Matildas making it to the quarter-final of the women’s World Cup.”
The growth in numbers has led to improvement on the field, with Melville City awarded membership to the junior National Premier League late last year.
“Probably 10-16 is the highest participation age group, but this year our reserve team, which is normally more older players nearing the end of their playing careers, has only two guys over 19.
“Some of those are new to the club, but the biggest percentage is homegrown talent, which is very exciting.”