Contributed by: Ash Nugent Tuesday, June 19 2007 @ 02:12 pm ACST
As football begins to establish itself outside of Australia, more and more clubs and leagues are implementing junior programs. This benefits football through improved exposure and offers the entities a future talent pool to draw from. Japan is home to two football leagues, the Japan AFL[*1] and the Nippon AFL[*2] both of whom have tried to get youth involved with footy. The latter has launched the ‘Japan Joeys’ and have held clinics at elementary schools throughout Osaka whilst several clubs in the JAFL have held similar clinics or formed a junior arm – such as what the Osaka Dingoes have done with 'the Russells'. Now, independent of both bodies, Wayne Garth has held football clinics at the Tokyo International School[*3] .
The idea was born around twelve months ago on a trip back to Australia. Garth approached the AFL about resources, and Nick Hatzoglou (Multicultural Project Coordinator – Game Development) was more than happy to assist, supplying a starter pack of: a football manual (Australian Football explained in 17 languages - see WFN Resources), a skills DVD, footies and umpire attire.
Garth ran the clinics weekly over the last two school terms, in groups of no more than 16. Held after school, the students involved ranged in age from 6 to 13. They were of numerous nationalities and the program proved so popular, that they were forced to draw up a waiting list.
Unfortunately for the students Garth is about to return to Australia, but has passed the reigns to a parent (another Australian) who has generously agreed to donate their time “simply for the delight of having a kick with the children and seeing them enjoy themselves”.