CLUSTER DAY: Lucy and AFLQ Regional Manager Scott Smithwick at Auskick.
CLUSTER DAY: Lucy and AFLQ Regional Manager Scott Smithwick at Auskick. Brad Matheson

Future AFL players converge at Rocky Cluster Day event

AUSSIE RULES: The future of the AFL Capricornia competition will be on display this Sunday as 250 - 300 of the youngest footballers from across the region embark on Kele Park.

Ten to 12 fields will be in full swing as AFL Capricornia hosts its annual Cluster Day where teams from Boyne Island, Gladstone, Yeppoon, Glenmore, Panthers and Brothers will participate in Round Robin Competitions in the Under 7, Under 9 and Under 11 age groups.

AFLQ Club and Competition Manager, Brad Matheson, was thrilled with the numbers this years and is excited about seeing so many up and coming footballers out of the field this weekend.

"Its amazing to see the number of boys and girls in these age groups that are playing our game in Central Queensland,” he said.

"It's a credit to the AUSKICK Program and the work done by the game development team in the Region.”

Regional Manager for Game Development, Scott Smithwick, has worked tirelessly for many years spreading the game from the Port Curtis Region up to Marlborough as well as providing staff throughout the Central Highlands with content spread throughout regions such as Baralaba, Blackwater and Emerald, even managing to organise centres in Longreach.

With weekly competitions played in Gladstone, Boyne Island, Yeppoon and Rockhampton, across all of these age groups, this will be the first opportunity that many youngsters will get to experience the 'next level' of the competition in the Region.

"It's a great opportunity, especially for our Under 11 that will move into competitive Under 13 Competition next year, to get a taste of what our full competition is about,” Matheson said.

"A chance to experience playing all Clubs in our regular Competition, unlike the limited teams that are involved in our various Friday Night Comps.”

Matheson commented on the experience that everyone will get this Sunday.

Brothers players at last year's Cluster Day event.
Brothers players at last year's Cluster Day event. Brad Matheson

It is also a big thrill for the Brothers players, as they are the only Club that doesn't have lights to allow them to play on Friday Nights like all other Clubs, to experience a 'home game' for the first time.

Brad noted the importance this had for the Club and all of it's up and coming players.

"Whilst the Kangaroos get to train at their home ground this is a whole new experience for these Kids to get to play a game where they train,” Matheson said.

"It is also fantastic to have a facility available where we are able to set up 10-12 modified fields to facilitate everyone in the one green space.”

Whilst all players will be thriving on the new challenges that the day presents this format of the competition is modified to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to participate.

Each age group has various levels of contact permitted in matches with the younger ages restricted to zones on the field to avoid overcrowding.

Along with educating the players on the day it's about educating the environment expected in all competitive matches.

"If it's not positive, it's pointless,” Matheson said, noting the importance of getting this message out in the early years of all involved.

"It's very important to us that we educate the on-field expectations of our players at a young age, and just as importantly the code of conduct of our spectators.

"The Umpires are volunteers, the organisers are volunteers, it's about the kids having a fun day so it is important that we get the message out to all involved which we hope will develop a good culture in our game for years to come.”

The day will kick off at 9.00am with a March Past of all Clubs, with Round robin matches kicking off straight after that.

The day will conclude with a late lunch and certificate presentation for all players involved in the day.

Sunny Ray, the Gold Coast Suns Mascot, made the trip up for last years event and was a hit with the Kids so there are plenty hoping that he will be making a return visit this year.

Anyone wanting to know more about the AFL Competitions in the Region is encouraged to get down on the day and catch up with AFLQ Staff.