SOCCER in South Gippsland was almost non-existent prior to the turn of the century, but has grown in leaps and bounds since then.
Families love the friendly atmosphere, particularly in junior matches where Under 7, 9, 11 and 13 teams compete on a Sunday morning.
Given the largely non-contact nature of the sport at this level, both boys and girls enjoy equal opportunities to develop and show their skills. The best players are not defined by gender.
That’s why the Gippsland Soccer League’s directive to create separate competitions for boys and girls, revealed in last week’s Sentinel-Times, just won’t work in its South Division.
Here, soccer is still in its infancy. Families steeped in Australian Rules tradition are only just beginning to explore the round ball code and discover what it has to offer.
The converts appreciate that it’s a game the entire family can play. Boys and girls can get their fix of fun and exercise and all age groups are done and dusted at the same venue within a couple of hours.
But while it grows, many South Gippsland clubs still battle to field teams in each age group, which means there are already regular byes.
So to split the boys from the girls could also split up families, with youngsters perhaps forced to play elsewhere just to get a game.
The Gippsland Soccer League is based in the Latrobe Valley which has a much stronger history in the code and may be able to support the separation.
But right now, a one size fits all approach is not feasible, nor necessary for the GSL’s South Division.
Soccer shooting itself in the foot