No-one goes home without touching the ball from a new initiative rolled out for Saturday morning junior soccer that has had record numbers flock to the round ball code.

New entrants to the First Kicks programme have more doubled, with 53 young boys and girls registered with the local club this season, compared to the 25 who registered last season.

Every new entrant to football in the area is enrolled in First Kicks, a nation-wide initiative where the old manual of structured games is thrown away. A vanload of footballs means every player has a ball to themselves.

First Kicks coordinator Jason Smith said it was part of a New Zealand Football initiative that aimed to provide all children with the fundamental skills of the game in a fun way for their first year of football.


Smith was one of several senior football players who gave up their morning to coach the youngsters before playing themselves in the afternoon. Vanessa Smith, Stephen Beissel, Kimberley d'Auriol and Danielle Porteous all pitched in every Saturday too.

Each week a new set of games was sent out to all clubs involved in the programme that focused on the basics of football - passing, dribbling, ball control and shooting.

"We try and follow it as closely as we can and really its about getting as many touches on the football as possible," he said.

Essentially they were games within a game, although there was time for a quick game at the end of the drills.

Smith said one pleasing aspect was the number of girls who had enrolled this season - 25 - giving the Levin programme the highest number of female participants in the central region.

Most new entrants were aged between four and six, although there was the odd three-year-old that joined in.

"The idea is that they move up, and then the next group come through," he said.

Smith said Oxford Finance had come on board this season as sponsor which helped with the purchase of new gear.