Melville City grap­ples with grow­ing pains

Cockburn Gazette - - SPORT -

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.”

D450081

Dave Kind­ness.

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