So your kids have shown an interest in playing sport. But which one do you choose for them? We are lucky in South-East Queensland and northern New South Wales to have the right kind of weather to enjoy outdoor sport as well as such a vibrant and diverse sporting community. To help you sort through the options, haven has spoken to five key sporting organisations for their take on what makes their sport the best and most rewarding choice for your kids.
While AFL might be considered more so a sport for the southern states of Australia, there’s actually a serious following of AFL followers up here in the sunnier states and it’s getting larger as our local teams and local players reach higher and higher levels of achievement in the game. The AFL Auskick program also has most of our school kids learning to love the game from a young age and South-East Queensland can be proud of the AFL exports we are sending south.
Who better to talk AFL with haven magazine than Gold Coast SUNS academy head coach Andrew Raines. A successful player in his time, Andrew has recently retired and is now giving back to the game that gave him so much, via his coaching nous.
Tell us a little bit about how you started in your sport?
I started playing junior football on the Gold Coast at the age of five. I moved up from Melbourne at a very young age, hence why I started playing AFL. I played my entire junior football years at Palm Beach Currumbin before playing senior football for Southport. At the end of that season, at the age of 17, I was drafted to the Richmond Tigers in Melbourne. It was there I started my AFL career. I played in the AFL for 12 seasons with three clubs (Richmond, Brisbane and Gold Coast). I retired at the end of last season and was offered the job of Academy Head Coach.
In your opinion, why is it important for kids to play sport, in general?
Sport keeps kids active and healthy. I believe kids have many distractions these days. Whether it be watching TV or on their computers, iPads or phones. Sport gives them the chance to engage with other kids, maintain their health and wellbeing, and gives them a chance to build their mindfulness whilst being away from those distractions.
What makes your sport the perfect choice for juniors?
AFL is very attractive for kids and parents. The game allows for all types of people and builds. There is also a massive increase in female participants which is very exciting. Anyone can play!
What skills or talent does a child need to be successful in your sport?
AFL allows for all different types of skills and talents from a wide variety of sports such as athletics, soccer, rugby, basketball etc. It’s the perfect combination of all skills and talents.
Do you believe kids need to start your sport by a certain age to achieve at an elite level? What is the perfect age for a child to start in your sport and why?
Not at all. Kids can start at anytime from the ages of 5 or 6 years to 17 or 18. Ideally, for the pathway to the elite level, you want kids to start earlier to build their skills and education of the game. But there are many success stories in the AFL of players who entered the game very late in their youth.
Do you have any tips for keeping kids motivated to participate in any chosen sport?
They need to enjoy it and be passionate about what they are doing. If you have purpose and enjoy what you do, you can achieve anything, be it in sport or life in general
If there’s an adult newcomer who is interested in starting in your sport, what advice do you have for them?
Watch a lot of AFL, be it on TV or in attendance on game days. This gives people the chance to learn the game, which can be complicated to begin with. I would then find a local club to learn the skills of the game. The rest will come with more experience. Local clubs are amazing in their ability to open their doors to anyone at anytime.
Who are some of the most famous local exports in your sport and what level of achievement have they reached in their?
Nick Riewoldt is probably the most successful player in recent times to have come out of this region. Nick grew up on the Gold Coast and went on to play with St Kilda where he still plays today and is captain of the club. Nick’s accolades are endless. They include multiple Best and Fairest awards, All Australian’s and AFLPA MVP.