Although rugby league, cricket and Australian rules football tend to be the most popular games for children in the country to play outside, there is an increasing number of kids who prefer to play soccer. Football is the world's most popular team sport and the Australian national team has qualified for the World Cup finals which will be held in Russia this winter. Given that this four-yearly competition throws a spotlight onto the sport in Australia, you should use it as an opportunity to get more kids interested in kicking a ball around.
How will the tournament best be harnessed by football coaches who want to encourage more Australian children to play the game?
The Australian pool matches in the World Cup are the best time to get younger kids interested in taking up the sport. While interest in the national team is at its highest, more children will show enthusiasm for learning to dribble, pass and tackle. If Australia gets knocked out when the pool stages are over, the time may not be as good. Use the games against France, Denmark and Peru as a launch pad to attract younger players and organise taster training sessions to coincide with these matches at the start of the tournament.
Allow Kids to Express Themselves
Inevitably, the World Cup with throw up new stars of the game and some surprising results. Kids love to act out their heroes, so be prepared for them to wear the kit of their favourite player or to have his name on the back. Ideally, you'll have football shirts that match a national team or two in order to play a few friendly matches during the tournament. Buy in any strips or vests you might need in advance because demand for football equipment is likely to go up once the World Cup begins.
Get Everyone Involved
Before their teenage years, boys and girls play mixed soccer together very well. If you are training children in football skills during the World Cup, then make sure you have enough equipment to keep everyone involved. Look for sporting equipment for sale such as balls, cones and goals which you can use in your training sessions. There is nothing worse than children having to wait their turn to dribble a ball between some cones because there are not enough to go around. As the tournament progresses, you may well find that you need more equipment than you previously thought as the popularity of the game peaks, especially if the national side plays well.