A Lambton Jaffas junior football side have been benefiting from training under the watchful eye of the club’s NPL captain Jobe Wheelhouse as they prepare for the Kanga Cup next month.
Eleven selected players from the Lambton Jaffas FC under-9 SAP squad are set to play in the five-day tournament in the ACT on July 9-13.
The Kanga Cup is the largest international youth football tournament in the Southern Hemisphere and has been held annually since 1991. It originally started in Sydney, but has been held in Canbera since 1993.
The tournament has grown from just 35 teams at the inaugural event, to more than 370 in teams in 2017 drawing some 5500 participants from Australia and overseas.
Lamton Jaffas under-9 SAP manager Ben Giggins said the SAP (Skills Acquisition Program) side has some of the age-group’s most talented players, who at under-9 level play with six field players and a goalkeeper.
“It’s probably above your normal under-9’s community football in the fact that they had to trial to get in,” Mr Giggins said. “At Lambton, we probably had a bout 50 or 60 kids trial for 17 spots. [But] there’s teams from all around the Newcastle area.”
Mr Giggins said the boys train twice a week and play two games each weekend for their regular games in the Hunter, but an extra session with Wheelhouse each week has been helping the side prepare for the Kanga Cup, where they will face teams from Manly, St George and as far as Brisbane.
“There are teams from overseas which would have been a good experience for the boys, but unfortunately we didn’t get any in our pool,” Mr Giggins said.
Wheelhouse, a former Newcastle Jets captain and the current Lambton Jaffas FC first-grade captain, recently had his first-grade teammates present the under-9 side with their Kanga Cup playing shirts.
Lambton Jaffas FC are having a youth day on Saturday for all of their junior teams, who will have the opportunity to mingle with the first-grade side before the 2.30pm NPL match against Charlestown City Blues at Arthur Edden Oval.
Two lucky groups of junior rugby players were given the experience of a lifetime on Saturday night at the Australia versus Ireland International match at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Players from Nelson Bay Gropers Junior Rugby Union Club and Medowie Junior Rugby Union Club were mascots for the two international teams before the game.
Nelson Bay walked out with and accompanied Ireland for the national anthem, as did Medowie for Australia.
The two groups were beamed live across the nation on Fox Sports and shown on the big screens at the ground in front of a stadium-record crowd of 44,085.