This Under 8s Footy caper can be a tough and wonderful experience with twists and turns and at every chicane there are nuggets of gold for the kids to absorb.
Last week we had the exhilaration of free flowing, high scoring and running football compared with this week’s physical and relentless arm wrestle at Dingley. Learning to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat are all key components of team sport and best learned from a young age.
Sportsmanship and fair play, before during and after a game, must be the central theme the boys receive when learning to play football. I am proud, yet again, with the way our boys handled themselves this week, before, during and after the game.
It was an eerie start to the morning with Bayside sporting fields clouded in fog and mist. Fortunately for us the kids playing in the first game had chased away the haze and by the start of our game, the conditions were far more pleasant.
The first quarter started in a flurry of activity with fierce tackling from Freddie from the wing and Ethan down back. We had talked before the game about trying to run and carry the ball but also to link up where possible with handball and to have a ‘team first’ approach. We reminded the boys that when they have the ball, they should be looking to pass it to their team mates advantage, whether by hand or foot. Cooper, playing in the Ruck in the first quarter, executed the first handball perfectly passing to advantage and running through the middle toward our Forward zone. Louis was able to drive the ball forward to give our Forwards an opportunity. Charlie took them on up forward with a zesty spring in his step and Angus was as tenacious as ever. Much like the previous encounter with Dingley a few weeks ago, goals were hard to come by and we knew we were in for a tough slog.
We reset during the first quarter break and burst into the second with renewed vigour. Joshua got his hands on the footy early with several penetrating kicks in quick succession while Cruzy cleared the ball with that majestic left foot kick of his. Lucas was dominant in the middle with a terrific mark and long kick while Ashton defended manfully. Jackson Block took ‘Mark of the Day’ up forward and in doing so earned himself a much deserved award at the end of the match. Will, at Full Forward, found himself on the end of a great passage of play with a strong mark and was unlucky not to put it through. He followed up, however, with a terrific second effort and made life hard for the Dingley defenders. Sharp shooter and goal sneak Eddie (Betts) broke the deadlock during the second with a team lifting goal showing that persistence pays off.
Pressure was high in the third quarter and Dingley had their fair share of the ball with the play moving evenly across all zones. They scored and we scored. We couldn’t seem to shake them. There was a feeling we had been here before with this team. They were physical, at times intimidating, but our boys showed resilience, courage and focus. Jumping Jack, Caelan K-F and Archie zipped through the middle of the ground fearlessly as part of our mosquito fleet; Sebastian tackled hard and ran the ball with purpose from the Ruck while Kit repelled multiple Dingley’s advances from their forward line. With our noses in front and with the siren about to go we watched in disbelief as the biggest boy on Dingley’s team received a free kick at half forward and kicked a goal from over 35 metres out to arrest our momentum.
The scene was set in the last quarter for an epic encounter between two hard-nosed, ‘never say die’ under 8 teams not willing to give an inch! The chess board during the break was shuffled and the boys took their positions. Kai, who had been in and under all day, cleared the ball from the middle to our advantage. Caelan M got busy up forward and imposed himself on the contest. Bodies intertwined around the ball as each player willed themselves to clear the pack and get the ball going forward. Momentarily deja vu set in as Jackson N gathered the ball, ran free from the pack, and let rip on his left foot, much like he’d done 4 weeks earlier, to score a terrific goal to put the Rovers in front. Here we go again! Back to the centre and the ball was then worked the other way. With two evenly matched teams, it wasn’t long before Dingley gained the ascendancy and scored again before the siren sounded to end what was a very close and hard fought game by both sides.
Some terrific lessons to come from this game – congratulations to all players.
See you all Thursday at training. No game this week with the Public Holiday but make sure we get outside and practise – kicks on the run in particular.
Rovers awards, in no order, for the day were as follows:
Congratulations to those boys.