The Bega Bombers are celebrating the 100th player registration for season 2014.
President Justin Welsford said the big boost has come from opening up the club to teach youngsters the skills of the game without parents having to commit themselves to weekend travel.
“It’s the babies, the under 10s who have provided the big boost to our numbers,” Welsford said.
Four of the club’s senior players have volunteered to give boys and girls from the age of seven or eight, all the way through to 10 lessons in the skills of the game.
Then they will encourage them to put those skills to use in a friendly intra-club match.
“They’re like ants on the showground every Wednesday,” Welsford said.
“We break them up into groups each with a senior player and they learn a few simple skills, then it’s on with a coloured vest and game on.
“I have to say there’s more fun than skill in those games at present, but they’re learning and they’re having a great time.”
Welsford said the concept has proved very popular with parents.
“The first thing they ask us is, ‘do we have to travel to a game at the weekend?’.
“When they learn the total commitment is for an hour on Wednesday afternoon they’re happy.
“We’re getting increasing numbers of parents and grandparents who just sit around and have a chat while the kids play.
“It’s becoming a family outing,” he said.
“There’s no registration fee involved for the junior players and for these littlies we don’t even suggest parents buy boots unless they want to.
“We provide the coloured vests the kids wear for the games so for parents it’s a painless situation.”
Welsford said it will be years before the Bombers will see the benefits of the program in their on-field performances.
“Hopefully some of the kids will go on and play with the Bombers - others will drift away to one of the other sports, but we think we’re laying the foundations of a strong club.
“We’ve just been told that Bega High School will offer AFL football as a sporting alternative next term and we’re looking forward to cooperating fully with the school to give students a great experience,” he said.
The Bombers will continue the program during the school holidays and invited anyone who wants to head along and try to be at the Bega Showground at 4.30pm any Wednesday.
They’re also inviting any boys over the age of 13 to join with their under 16 squad from 5pm any Monday and Wednesday, while boys and girls from the age of 11 to 13 to join the under 13 group any Wednesday from 4.30pm.