A BOLD move by South Lakes Roosters Junior Rugby League Football Club to abolish registration fees has seen its player numbers more than double.
“Last year, we had roughly 100 kids registered with the club,” South Lakes president, Troy Agar, said.
“This year, we’re already over the 200 mark, and at last count was close to 230. We’ve gone from having eight teams last year, to having 18 or 19 teams this year.”
Driving the unprecedented spike in player numbers is the club’s decision to scrap the usual registration fee – which varies from club to club, but is typically between $120 and $180.
Mr Agar said the offer had been made possible by the support of the club’s sponsors.
Players also pay nothing for insurance, their playing shorts or playing socks.
The club’s decision to scrap registration fees has the backing of some influential men in the game.
NSW coach Laurie Daley has suggested that all junior rugby league clubs should trial the abolition of registration fees in an effort to boost player numbers.
Mr Agar said while the kids had clearly come to the Roosters for the free registration, they’d stay because of the quality coaching, representative pathways, and the club’s dedicated committee providing a fun and rewarding sporting environment.
“We’ve got 12 people on the committee now, we’re very much a family-based club, we spend a lot of time developing our coaches, we have some coaching clinics planned for during the holidays, and it’s all about the kids having fun,” he said.
The Dora Creek-based club fields teams from under-6s to under-17s for boys, and in under-14s, under-16s, and under-18s for girls.
“This year we’ll field three teams in the under-6s and under-7s, and we’re currently bordering on fielding two teams in the under-9s.”
And as with any growth spurt, the Roosters’ have endured a few challenges.
“We’ve had to organise a few extra fields for our pre-season training,” Mr Agar said.
In addition to its spiritual home on the playing field at Dora Creek Workers Club, the Roosters are also using Les Norris Field, at Morisset Showground, and Douglass Street Oval – at least until the season proper starts.
Mr Agar said the Roosters had welcomed many players who had settled with their families in new residential estates in the area.
Other players had been drawn to the club from the Central Coast, Wangi Wangi and Toronto.
Registrations remain open for all teams.
“We’re especially looking for some more players in our under-11s and under-13s teams in the boys, and we’d also like to boost our girls’ under-14s team,” Mr Agar said.
The club boasts a few representative players who are currently playing with the Sydney City Roosters and Newcastle Knights, before they will return to play with Dora Creek at the end of April, he said.
To join the Roosters’ ranks, phone club secretary Jody Meyn on 0412 881239.