Heat's Historic Weipa Trip A Huge Hit
FNQ FC Heat’s historic trip to Weipa has been labelled a huge hit, giving a massive boost to football in the remote coastal community located on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The Heat’s star signing, former A-League player Alex Smith (pictured), spent three days in the township, meeting local football administrators, coaches and players.
It was the first time a National Premier Leagues club has visited the town, which has a population of approximately 3300 people.
Smith conducted specialist coaching and playing clinics, helping the locals gain a greater understanding of the game and Football Federation Australia’s National Coaching Curriculum.
“The weekend was absolutely fantastic, it was really exciting to have Alex here,” Weipa Junior Soccer Club’s Rachel O’Sullivan said.
“I think the kids really didn’t really know what to expect and were super excited by having someone different come to town, someone who’s got some really good skills. “
“From the parents I’ve spoken to, they were really happy with the encouragement that they got – they came out of the coaching sessions saying ‘that was fantastic!’”
Smith, who was raised in the United States and was previously contracted to Major League Soccer side FC Dallas as well as A-League club Wellington Phoenix, enjoyed the experience as much as the attendees.
“Firstly, I was overwhelmed by the amount of kids who showed up, the positive spirit that they played with and some of the football talent there,” Smith said.
“It was my first time there so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but I was delighted with what I saw.”
“There’s a strong football community here. The parents, teachers and coaches are so passionate about ensuring their kids get the most out of the game and, of course, enjoy themselves.”
The trip was the Heat’s latest initiative as part of the club’s commitment to engage with as much of the Far North Queensland community as possible and encourage more people to be involved with the ‘beautiful game’.
It follows clinics in Cairns and the Tablelands which have been well attended and highly praised.
Smith arrived in Weipa on Friday afternoon, met members of the Weipa Junior Soccer Club Committee and helped out at a course for junior referees and game leaders.
He was also a keen spectator during the junior matches played on Saturday morning.
“The kids played with such enthusiasm, energy and sportsmanship. It was great to see kids supporting each other – they’d stop and help up an opposition player, give each other encouragement, that sort of thing.”
“Some of them had great talent too – I reckon there’s a few potential A-League players among them!”
After handing out Heat shirts to his ‘players of the day’, Smith held a session with some of the local football coaches.
“It was very much focused on the basics, things like how to plan a coaching session, how to keep the kids interested and how to make sure the skills you teach actually stay with the players.”
“It was great to have some lively discussion about coaching techniques and the FFA National Curriculum.”
Smith was on hand Sunday to see the coaches implement the techniques over two training session with players ranging from five to twelve years of age.
“The coaches did really well,” Smith stated, “They held the kids’ interest throughout and taught them a few new skills all while having a great deal of fun, which of course, is the most important part of coaching that age group.”
Football in Weipa is experiencing a revival after suffering low participation levels in recent years.
“I’ve been with the club for about five years and this is the best season that we’ve had so far,” O’Sullivan explained.
“Two years ago I actually felt we were a club in danger – we had very low volunteers coming through, we had no real succession plan for the committees.”
“So we’re really ecstatic that this year has been huge; we’ve got 89 kids on the books this year which is the biggest that I’ve had.”
Heat are planning future clinics over the Easter break in other Far North Queensland communites including Innisfail, Port Douglas and Mareeba.
For more information visit the information page on the Heat website: http://www.fnqfc.com.au/join/easter-clinics.html
Words & Images: FNQ FC Heat