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Every week, around 400 children in Wellington, New Zealand, take to the field to play nursery football as part of an innovative programme using Football Packagoals.
Known as Little Dribblers Football Club, the programme inspires children aged up to seven years old to play football and develop the basic social skills required for the sport.
The programme recently purchased inflatable Junior Football Packagoals to replace the steel goals that were previously used, and they have now been rolled out in Wellington and at other Little Dribblers franchises around New Zealand.
“The move to Packagoals has meant we’re able to set up quickly and pack the goals away much more easily. Our franchises get more value for money, and that’s generating interest around the country.”
They are also giving parents confidence that their children are safe on the park, eliminating any perceived risk of injury from collisions with on-field equipment, he says.
Mr Morrison says the key to introducing children to football early is helping them feel comfortable and making sure they have fun in an environment where their game and social skills will develop in time.
The Little Dribblers programme starts with the under two age group in short sessions with simple skills like children rolling the ball to each other.
For 2-3 year olds, the focus is on fun. Uniforms are provided and children can play in popular national team colours, such as those worn by Argentina and Spain, with on-field support and guidance from parents, corner and goal kicks, and a prize for the player of the day.
For 4-7 year olds, the game is “a bit more serious”, with less parental guidance on the field, and kids learning the game from each other with a referee, Mr Morrison says.
“The intensity of the game is led by the kids and there are no expectations from us – except that kids come along, learn the game and have a great time. From day one, we put them in a football environment and they explore it.”
He says introducing children to football at an early age can inspire a lasting love of the beautiful game, as well as instilling valuable skills. His latest project is City League Junior Football – a programme providing a natural continuation for children who have outgrown being a ‘little dribbler’.
Photos provided courtesy of Little Dribblers Football Club. More information on the programme and franchise options is available on the Little Dribblers website.
Find out more about Football Packagoals>>