Auskick club kicking goals in Carlton

Katie Johnson

Since 2014, the Carlton Junior Football Club has been encouraging kids from all cultural backgrounds to try their hands at AFL.

Off-field coordinator Zach Kernich said the club was started up by Carlton local Peter Behrendorff who saw a need for the suburb to have a multicultural Auskick club.

“He wanted to start up a club in Carlton and get the housing commission kids from Carlton and Carlton North involved,” Mr Kernich said.

“At the time we were able to get free registration because of the multicultural nature of the club and the disadvantages faced by those in the housing estates, and we had a massive turnout.”

Currently the club has 120 kids aged between five and 12 registered who come and play on Sunday mornings at Princes Park.

The day usually involves doing drills at the six stations on the field, before lining up for sausages at the end of practice.

“We have a simple system out on the field, divided into different age groups, with a few volunteers to help,” Mr Kernich said.   

“We mainly focus on improving skills and teamwork, but later in the season we also have game days where the kids compete among themselves.”

Since the AFL stopped subsidising registration fees for kids who live in the housing estates, the culture of the club has evolved over time.

Off-field co-ordinator Zach Kernich said that “more could be done” to get kids from the housing estates involved again.

“The multicultural aspect of the club has dropped off a bit and we’re getting more families from the inner city,” Mr Kernich said.

“There’s definitely a market for getting those kids involved, it’s the same situation in North Melbourne and other suburbs where those towers reside.”

Mr Kernich said the club was always willing to plan for kids facing disadvantage or financial hardships to ensure everyone got a chance to play.

“Our thing is that everyone matters. We would love for the kids from the housing estates to come down and play, and we would do what we can to support them with subsidies,” Mr Kernich said.

“At the moment if kids just want to try it out it we don’t make them register, we just give them a handwritten sticker and let them go.”

Mr Kernich said that Carlton Auskick was a great way for kids to have fun for an hour on a Sunday morning before “tucking in to some snags and popcorn”.

“It’s a really nicely run, simple Auskick centre with a great atmosphere,” Mr Kernich said.

“We want people to come along and have some fun, learn some skills, participate in teamwork, and enjoy the beautiful Sunday mornings at Princes Park.”

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