One of the very few clubs in the country offering free fees for players 18-years-old and younger is Balga Football Club in Western Australia.
The club formed the ‘Junior Fee Free Football (FFF)’ program to provide children an opportunity to develop their skills.
Former Football Federation Tasmania NTC head coach and Balga FC volunteer Kenny Weston said on Evenings on FNR that he reached out to the club president, Ken Shorto, to get involved.
“I realised what was going on at Balga.”
“It’s very close to my heart in terms of my background as a young footballer in a tough, rough area in Manchester,
“The challenges to become a footballer, especially in Australia with a heavy usage of user pay.”
Weston highlighted that more often than not, talent is lost because parents simply can’t afford the rising fees.
“It becomes a barrier for certain pockets, certain areas and communities, where children and families economically have real challenges,” Weston said.
“The real key thing is there’s a boy or a girl, they deserve every single right as someone who can pay $1000 to $2000 for NPL fees.”
Balga Football Club already has over 200 juniors playing the game from various backgrounds.
Weston believes Australia might have a bigger talent pool as they are pioneers within the community football scene with this framework.
“The model is the only one in the country,” Weston said.
“If the program was rolled out nationally in more pockets around the country, I have no doubt there would be more footballers produced nationally.”
Kenny Weston also mentioned that people join the club as members to help out, they have sponsors and he like many of the other dads will coach the 6-year-olds.
“I’ve met a lot of good people there [Balga], for anything to work you need a collective who have a similar philosophy,” Weston said.
“If there is a Socceroo in amongst a community like Balga, that boy deserves to be a national team player,
“I’m passionate about it because the vast majority of the world in football come from a very poor background.”
Weston mentioned that Manchester United’s Eric Bailly was fourteen when he first played on grass.
“What does that say about talent? talent just need nurturing and opportunity.”
For more information about Balga head to their website: https://balgasc.com/