This week’s game was an old fashioned arm wrestle with both teams giving no quarter in defense and forwards finding it hard to ply their craft in front of goals. It was a Rumble in the Urban Jungle at Willoughby Oval with its grand urbanisation and high rises as the backdrop. Football and the nervous band of parents and on-lookers being the winners on the day for witnessing an eventful, but sometimes tense display of U8 AFL. Ultimately our kids learnt the benefit of team play, persistence, and pressure on the ball carrier to perhaps take the bragging rights over their cross-shore rivals. I think that the ground was a good 30 metres longer than they were used to meaning it was more that a run bound and kick though each third, meaning everyone had to be more focused on clean ball movement under pressure.
Kicking to the hospital end in the first term, Jack Phillips was the difference, converting truly twice for important goals after marking well and playing in front of his direct opponent. Will was a powerhouse in the middle of the ground early, and so too was Marcus with his goading of the opposition with ball in hand teasing them to smother, only resulting in yards gained and retained possession for his side. Maddie getting team mates involved with crucial hand passes and poise around the contest while maintaining pressure on the opposition and using her voice to encourage team mates.
Ethan our running machine had a highlight reel that even Dusty Martin would be proud of, the “get-down-get-the-ball, get-up, get-away-from-me DON’T ARGUE, try and catch me” with a clean set of heals was superb. His run out of defense early was also valuable for the team in setting up our attacks.
Jake and Jack connected well through the middle of the ground with silky-smooth passing, marking and clean possession, the latter having a great all round game with his war chest of skills used throughout, whether in defense or attack. Also I recall “Repeat Effort Evan” was prostrate on the wing after multiple efforts to thrust the team forward only for the ball to turnover several times in attack and defense.
We know Jordan is a natural midfielder, blocking and bustling, winning the ball and having a gallop seem to be done by this lad with ease….and always a cheeky smile on his face.
Charlie was a key focal point up forward, either marking the ball strongly or gaining possession at ground level, never giving up against a willing opposition. Edward was steady and focussed and continued to do the team things like the one-percenters and being a wall of enthusiasm in defense, stopping the opposition runs to attack.
After the game, the opposition coach approached me and praised our kids effort and their running and bouncing through the middle of the ground, as well as getting everyone in the team involved with hand passing and kicking accuracy. There is a lot we can take out of these tight games, the key elements being hitting targets with our kicking and handball, as well as using team mates when we are in trouble. While we should never forget that the team is U8, it is important that we continue to emphasise team work, respect for the opposition, and the umpires – as well as having fun! Our kids were great and we should be proud of their effort, spirit, and sportsmanship.
This week, parents have earnt the bye for the long weekend. Well done and enjoy the sleep in! We will be back at Blackman Park on the following Sunday 16/06 at 9am. I look forward to another impressive display in 2 weeks.
Finally, the list of items left behind after games is growing – I have a kids orange Uniqlo puffy jacket and a red mouth guard in the kit bag that were left behind over the past weeks. If you know of who they belong to, I will have them with me on the 16/06.