A unique football program is now up and running in Yarrawonga with the Next Gen Minis program being held at the Yarrawonga College P-12 ECA centre on Saturday mornings from 9am-11am.
The Next Gen program is an AFL skills-based program for two to five-and-a-half-year old’s designed to develop their fine and gross motor skills, socialise with friends, get ready to transition into school or team sport and to get active.
The program has been created and endorsed by school teachers as well as AFL players including Jake Melksham and Thomas Belchambers while being facilitated by Next Gen Sports Academy.
This is the only AFL based program available for this age group and Yarrawonga program coordinators Danni and Joel Whinray said the feedback they have received so far has been fantastic and they will continue to run the program into the new year.
“We found out about it through Sophie Cachia, internet entrepreneur and wife of former Carlton footballer Jaryd Cachia and I just emailed the academy asking if there was any chance they were bringing the program out to the country,” Danni said.
“They were looking to expand the program outside of Melbourne and said if we were willing to jump on board and help out running a program, it could come to Yarrawonga almost immediately.
“Our son Charlie just loves footy and it was a way for him to be involved at a young age and at the same time learn skills outside of footy as well.”
Yarrawonga is just the second area to take on the program after they and Essendon ran eight-week pilot programs which were well received before they began their fully-fledged program on October 20.
So far, the program has proved successful in Yarrawonga with 40 kids participating at the moment and both children and parents alike really enjoying the different experience.
“It has just been a unique opportunity and we are lucky to have this in a small town,” Danni said.
“As well as learning Aussie Rules football skills the program is a lead in to primary school as it helps with confidence and social skills and also leads them into transitioning to Auskick.
“Auskick is for kids six years and older so this program provides children from the ages of two – five and a ½ to be able to have an involvement in footy and learn different skills across differing aspects of their lives.
“It’s a real positive and to see even two-year old’s stop and listen to what is being asked of them and progressing their skills each week is fantastic.
“The program has now expanded to Albury and a few other spots in Melbourne and the academy hope to get even more programs across the regional areas throughout the school terms in 2019.
“We are going to hold an open session on December 15 on the foreshore for anyone to come down, have a kick and see what the program is about but if people would like to find out more we have a few Facebook pages, visit Next Gen Minis Yarrawonga and check out what the program is about.”