Weekly News Article
Posted By:
Kevin Wilson
Date Posted:
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 - 10:47:34 AM
High Costs Derailing Footballers Dreams of Future Stars
THE dream of playing football is being priced out of the reach of many working-class families, with annual registration fees for talented young players climbing beyond $2000.
The soaring cost of playing junior grades in the Premier League has come under attack from parents, clubs and players. “The fees are way too high — not even the school fees are as high,” said Gary Lopane, the father of three elite young players.

Officials warn that despite many of the best players coming from humble origins, elite junior football is becoming so expensive it is in danger of becoming the preserve of the wealthier middle class and being usurped by much more cost-effective rival codes. Western Sydney Wanderer Shannon Cole said the game could soon be “divided by status”. WESTERN Sydney Wanderers star Shannon Cole fears the beautiful game could become “divided by status” if soaring fees for junior football are not reduced.

Cole has called for a “public conversation” over the fees of up to $2400 a season charged to families of talented children selected to play at elite level.
“For a kid to be a rep player can mean a massive financial burden on their family,” Cole has written in a column for the Inner West Courier.
“I don’t know why some parents have to pay well over $2000 if their kid is good enough to play rep football.

“In my opinion it should be free, but fees rise every year.
“You’ve heard countless stories about the best players of all time coming from humble beginnings, many of them from poverty. Football gave them a love for life, a belief they can be someone.
“One of the beauties of all football codes is they can be played by anyone, anytime, anywhere, the only requirement is a ball.

“This means no one of any socio-economic status can be discriminated against, right?
“Just turn up ready to run and kick? What a beautiful thought ... but sadly, this is not the case. Not in NSW.”
Cole said the financial burden fell on ordinary families.

“I am not going to point the finger at anyone, not the clubs who charge the fees, not the local confederations that run each competition, not the FFA who have done an amazing job growing our game. We all need to find a solution together.’’ Football (aka soccer) is one of the most widely played games in Australia. One reason for its popularity is it requires very little in terms of expensive equipment. Players just need some boots, a ball and 105m by 68m of playing area. The only other requirement is talent.

Yet the growth of Australian football talent faces a threat, with registration fees for some junior elite football players now climbing above $2000. That’s bad enough for a single junior player. Consider how difficult it is for a family with several promising junior players.
Newtown’s Gary Lopane has three soccer-playing boys aged eight to 12. This should be a matter of pride but instead it means a combined registration fee of $5500.
As another fee-paying soccer dad told The Daily Telegraph: “How is it possible that football has become so expensive?”

That’s a great question. The game’s basics have not changed — certainly not to the extent that would justify four-figure registration charges. Football’s fan base is solidly in the battler demographic. Sport is meant to be a release from everyday worries. Football is now a worry itself.
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