Little Blacks Army on a mission to have fun

KING OF THE KIDS: Maitland Blacks vice-president Dan Gollan with part of the club’s Little Blacks Army. Photo: Max Mason-HubersMaitland Blacks vice-president Dan Golan proudly looks out over a sea of tiny black jerseys having a ball playing a game which has been part of his family’s history for three generations.
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They are the Little Blacks Army, 89 energetic and enthusiastic boys and girlswho take part each Saturday in the club’s stand alone under-7 competition.

Golan is hopeful that within a few weeks the club will have 100 under 7s on their books, probably the biggest program of any rugby club in Australia.

To put the club’s success into perspective, there are more under 7s competing at Marcellin Park each week than from the combined total of the eight Newcastle clubs in the Newcastle and Hunter Junior Rugby Union competition.

“It’s unbelievable how it has developed,” Golan said of the program which he and Blacks president Ben Emmett discussed over a drink four years ago.

“We had 30 in the first year, 50 the second, 80 last year and 89 already this year and we are probably expecting 100 by the end of the season.”

Golan said the club now had more than 400 junior players across the age groups, with three under-8, three under-9 and three under-10 teams, which came through the under 7s,competing in the Hunter junior competition.

“When such big numbers started to take part we decided to run our own competition at Marcellin each week,” Golan, whose daughter Poppy starts under-7s this year,said.

“It means they don’t have to travel far and we now have two specific fields for them with modified goal posts.

“We hold eight games each Saturday.”

Golan said one of the keys to the program’s success was securing sponsorship and keeping the price for parents to a minimum.

“One of our Blacks people Todd Holden, from Euro Cars, came on board and has pretty much under-written it from the first year,” he said.

“It means that we have been able to keep our registration fee to just $50 and that includes a training jersey, a sticker, presentation day costs including a photo and medallion.

“We’ve got kids from all over Maitland and as far afield as Pokolbin, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and even Dungog.

“We’re a family club and pride ourselves on providing a safe and caring environment for our kids.

“All our coaches need to have appropriate certificates to work with children and coaching accreditation.

“From under 12 our kids move up into our Blacks academy where they have access to specialist coaching from Sydney and beyond.

“Our Little Blacks Army is our club’s future and the future’s looking bright.”

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