THE Belmont Junior Soccer Club has been embraced by the City of Belmont’s multicultural community, with youngsters aged 3-16 representing 38 nationalities helping to dramatically boost membership numbers this year.
The club has undergone a remarkable turnaround since the start of the year, with membership increasing by 100 players to 230. Club president Martin Connolly, who took over the reins late last year, said he had initially budgeted for a 20 per cent |reduction in membership.
The club held information nights earlier this year, produced booklets and built a new coaching structure.
“I thought we might get 130 members but it truly is an amazing story,” Mr Connolly said.
“Everyone is made to feel welcome and they know that we care.
“I emigrated from Scotland 28 years ago and still nobody understands me, so I know what it’s like to come to Australia and be a bit of an outsider.”
The club’s rapid growth and diversity has been noticed by the City of Belmont and Football West.
City of Belmont acting chief executive Neville Deague said the club was an integral part in providing inclusive opportunities to help create a more connected and healthy community.
“We congratulate Martin, the club committee and its volunteers for the all the hard work that goes into running an |invaluable service for the youth of the City of Belmont,” Mr Deague said.
A Football West spokesman said the club was chosen to be part of the recent Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Iraq due to its support of the MiniRoos Kick-off Program and their initiative in providing opportunities to local community members.
“Belmont was one of the first metropolitan clubs to hold a Kick-off program, which provides children with a fun, entry-level experience of the game,” he said.
Mr Connolly thanked all the parents who stepped up and took on coaching and support roles during the year.
The club’s growth had been mainly due to word of mouth through the community.
“One family tells another family and so on and we’ve had school friends joining so they can play with their mates on weekends,” he said.
“The kids get on brilliantly; this is a happy place, and if they’re happy they tell their friends.”
A Facebook page has been set up to help overcome language barriers through the use of Google translator with messages being posted in different languages.
“It’s helping to make everyone feel that they are part of something,” he said.
The club held its end of season windup yesterday and will be holding its annual general meeting soon to prepare for next year.