WHEN Brent and Rebecca Dawson became parents for the first time six months ago, they began to think of activities they’d like to do with their son in his early years.
Somewhere amid the blur of sleep deprivation and nappy changes they read about Grasshopper Soccer, a non-competitive kids soccer program for those aged between 2 and 12.
They liked what they read about the Perth-founded franchise – so much so that they bought the Newcastle operation and launched it in July.
Mr Dawson, 30, a customer service adviser for the Department of Human Services in Charlestown, has been buoyed by the response to to his family’s first business.
“Parents have been really responsive along with the kids and the re-enrolments have been solid,” he said.
An avid soccer fan and player from a young age, Mr Dawson said he and Rebecca were attracted to Grasshopper’s social and non-competitive focus.
“This is not about winning, it’s about participating, having fun and showing respect for your team-mates and the other team,” he says.
“There are a lot of kids who want to play sport but feel threatened by the competitive nature of it and this is the perfect remedy.
“We always aim to have a ball at the feet of every player and encourage group play.”
Three of the children enrolled with his school have autism and their parents have been elated by their enjoyment of it.
Mr Dawson believes Grasshopper’s point of difference is its move to encourage parents to get involved on the day with their kids, rather than just sit on the sidelines.
He played soccer as a young child before he lost his way in his teenage years and refound his love for the sport a decade ago.
He now plays socially for the Hamilton Azzurri and can’t wait for Blake to be able to join in.
The Dawsons are keen to extend their year-round program to Port Stephens and Maitland.
“We enjoying working with the kids here as we feel we have a lot to give and hope to be positive role models in their young lives,” he said.