Maclean Eagles set to soar in 2009

MACLEAN junior Australian rules footballers will be kicking for goal again when the Australian Football League's Auskick program returns to the region after a two-year hiatus.

Children between the ages of five and 12 will be able to take part in the skills-based 15-week program run at Wherrett Park on Wednesday afternoons throughout the school term.

AFL Northern NSW regional manager Mark Heaney said Auskick was the perfect way for children to be introduced to the game.

“There is nothing much out there for that age group and this gives them the opportunity to experience the game before they join a club,” he said.

Heaney named the Clarence Valley as a potential growth area for the sport and said Auskick could help AFL reach its potential within the region.

“There was an increase of 20 per cent in AFL participation last year and we are expecting more this year,” he said.

“There is an important emphasis in growing the competition.”

Grabbing the attention of school students is one of the many ways the AFL hopes to attract a greater number of players.

“One of the obvious lacking factors is the region hasn't got any ongoing Auskick schools program,” Heaney said. “(But) we will be running clinics with schools in Iluka, Maclean and Yamba to do a promotion of AFL before the Auskick sign-on days.”

Another factor which will help the game soar is the continued support of dedicated volunteers.

“We really do rely on the great help of volunteers,” Heaney said.

“We have to have people within the clubs supporting and helping out with the Auskick program.”

Children who participate in the Auskick program will have the opportunity to be selected in the Northern NSW Auskick team which will play at halftime in the Sydney Swans and Richmond at the Sydney Cricket Ground on May 3. Sign-on days for Maclean Auskick will be held tomorrow and April 1.

Children who sign-on will also receive a backpack which includes a football, DVD and pencil case.

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