Pirie's junior footballers take to Adelaide Oval

Our junior footy boys - and one girl - had a taste of the big time when they took centre stage at Adelaide Oval on a recent Saturday night.

It was half-time at the Adelaide-St Kilda AFL match and dozens of small red and black figures, plus some in Crows and St Kilda guernseys, zipped around the oval.

Simultaneously, two Auskick matches were being played involving five-to-seven-year-olds from Port Pirie's four clubs plus an under-11 Little League clash between Port Pirie's team wearing St Kilda tops and South East wearing Crows colours.

McMahon Services sponsored the Port Pirie Little League guernseys.

In the Auskick program, Port played Lions and St Mark's played Solomontown.

Chairman of Port Pirie Junior Football League Chris Rafanelli said many of the children had wanted to return to the oval to play the next week.

"They had a crowd of 40,000 compared to about 50 people at their games in Pirie," he said.

He said there was no scoreboard in the matches, but "the kids keep score".

"There is no tackling in Auskick, but it is allowed in Little League," he said.

"Skills are good. They love it. For some of them, it is the first time they have played football in the Auskick program.

"For most, it is their first year. When they came back into the grandstand, they were happy and proud of themselves after playing on the oval.

"You cannot get the smiles off their faces. It took a while for most of the kids to get to sleep that night because they were so excited.

"Matt Ganley's St Mark's boys Gilbert Hansen and Xzavier Cameron wanted to play on Adelaide Oval every week.

"The only girl playing on the night was seven-year-old Ayla Edwards, of Lions, who is the daughter of retired senior player Shannon Edwards.

"It is grassroots football. We are trying to get another game there next year."

Auskick is played in two 10-minute halves at 9 o'clock on chilly Sunday mornings in Port Pirie.

Everyone is encouraged to have a kick and score a goal, but sometimes there are distractions. "We had one boy with St Mark's who started digging a hole in the oval," Mr Rafanelli said.

"Next week, he found the same hole and got his opponent to dig, too."

The youngsters progress through the grades, but there is a bit of a gap in turnout for 12-year-olds for the under 13 competition.

Organisers try to persuade the youngsters to discard their computer games, get off the lounge and play football.

Baylen Goddard, 6, was a member of the Solomontown Auskick team to play at Adelaide Oval. He said he had taken a chest mark, had a few kicks and scored two goals.

He is in his second year of Auskick and barracks for West Coast Eagles. His hero is Jack Darling.

Baylen's father Colin played for the Cats as did his grandfather and great-grandfather.

His mother Aleesha's father, Ian Mudge, also played for Solomontown.

Baylen enjoyed playing on the oval and reckons he was watched by "30 hundred" people.

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