When you walk into Lynn Avon club rooms you will be stopped in your tracks by the history of Football Royalty coming out of LAUFC.
The photos on the wall tell the story of over 20 talented female players who have represented their country since 1984. Amber Hearn, Ria Percivil, Kirsty Yallop, Hayley Moorwood, Maia Jackson, Yvonne Vale & Terry McCahill to name a few. This club has set the standard for women’s football over the past three decades with New Zealand representation on the world stage.
A former New Zealand Football Fern and Club Secretary, Terry McCahill, has been a committed player and member with the club since day one. Terry noticed a decline in the area of juniors and certainly, girls playing football and this troubled the living legend to the point that a decision was made to do something about it.
In an attempt to offer a taster of, football, the club and skill improvement, the idea was floated to offer a free fun football course to the local community. Getting the word out was easy with flyer drops, social media announcements and word of mouth within the neighbourhood and at the local schools. Lynnavon offered 7 weeks of free football sessions, a totally homegrown opportunity for kids to experience grassroots football from their local club.
With the assistance of talented and motivated youth players wanting to give back to the game, Lynnavon was able to provide intensive coaching sessions under the guidance of experienced youth coach Haley Gleeson. “Volunteering their time every Sunday afternoon to coach kids, some who have never played before was very generous” says Haley. The youngest coach being 13yrs old.
We worked to upskill these gifted mentors so they were proficient in delivering age related sessions and offer an excellent introduction to football. Nicola Demaine, who donated her Sunday afternoon to come along and incorporate a NZ Football Introduction to Coaching Course said, “Helping coaches understand the best way to positively effect their players is essential to give the players a good first experience so they choose to play football again”.
This session, held in the changing rooms at Eastdale Reserve, worked to fully round out what LAUFC could offer the recently inducted coaches, providing further teaching initiatives to put into practice in the future. This is as grassroots as you can get.
Lynn Avon turned on the sessions and the kids came. Every week between 30-50 kids from 5-14yrs old ran onto the field ready and eager to learn new things. There were three rules. Work hard, behave and most importantly have fun.
For Lynn Avon bridging the gap between first kicks and the talent of New Zealands professional players was important. NZU20 players Sam Tawharu and Malia Steinmetz kindly donated their playing strips to some lucky young kids. No doubt this would have been a highlight for them and perhaps even solidified their ongoing passion for the game.
Thanks to Auckland Football every child went home with a McDonalds ball I’m sure with some high aspirations to put into practice the skills they learned over the past 7 weeks.
The next step is to replicate the Fun Football Sessions again prior to the 2019 season kick off. Lynn Avon’s mission is to get kids playing football. “Having opportunities made easy where kids can turn up and play is vital and having people step up and give back to the game is just as important. “ says Terry
The aim is to build on the family friendly club legacy that Lynn Avon is known for, at the end of the day more kids playing football is a win for all and from that champions emerge.