Good game!

I little known fact is that I’m a soccer mum. I don’t know how it happened, considering my interest in the sport is usually reserved to the odd World Cup game, at most. This season I’ve been the manager of my own soccer team, and they didn’t care that I don’t particularly understand the rules!

The reason for my recent soccer involvement is that it’s been winter sports season in Australia. If you’ve just arrived down under you’ll soon pick up on the rhythm of seasonal sports.

Extracurricular activities for kids in Australia

Extracurricular activity options for kids in Australia are endless, especially in larger cities. Even before they start school children can take part in soccer, cricket, rugby, netball, tennis, athletics, swimming lessons, keyboard and music lessons, dance, martial arts… In fact, if you’ve got the money, energy and patience, your kids could be busy every day of the week and still feel like they’re missing out.

Seasonal sports

My eldest son started school this year and we’ve been introduced to the rhythm of seasonal sports. I’m including my experience of the way things work in Sydney, please add your comments and tips about how sports training, enrolment and pricing is organised where you live.

Winter sports

At the end of summer (February) you start seeing flyers and posters to sign up for winter sports. The school(s) your children are attending may have a tradition of playing sports at a specific ground or club; ask other parents and teachers which clubs local children typically attend.

Sports played from around April – August are; soccer, football (Rugby League, Union or AFL) and netball.

It’s common to register during February \ March and pay a one off joining fee to be part of the club (we paid $150 to join my son’s soccer club). The cost of the club’s soccer kit wasn’t included in the joining fee, we paid for that separately ($30), but we did get a training ball and hat.

What we didn’t realise when we signed up to soccer is that although you join the club, the training and weekend matches are coordinated by parent volunteers. This is how I became team manager and Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus became the coach (not bad for a Rugby playing South African!).

Once we had created a team we agreed which day and time we’d train, and that was locked in for the season. Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus attended training for coaches with the local Soccer Association and we were good to go.

In my role as manager, I liaised between the club and parents of kids on our team. I made sure people knew where to be for Saturday matches and how to take part in other events and fundraisers.

Being a soccer mum (or dad) is a big time commitment. We kissed goodbye to lazy Saturday mornings for nearly half a year. If you’ve got several children involved in different sports it can completely take over your weekend. We know a family with three boys who play soccer at different times throughout the day on a Saturday– they get to the soccer field at 9am and their boys are on and off the pitch until 3pm.

Of course, we think it’s worth the effort and being involved in team sports is great for kids. For parents it’s a good way to get to know other local families.

Summer sports

Water sports

Summer sports aren’t exclusively water based, although Nippers takes place during the summer and swimming lessons are more popular. Read more about Nippers in: More on sea safety: Rips and Nippers. Nippers activities take place at the beach, enrolment starts in September and sessions start in October.

Swimming lessons take place in local aquatic centres, community clubs and private swimming schools. We’ve tried a few different schools in Sydney and prices range from $15 – $22 per 30 minute lesson. Many schools offer a swimming program during the spring \ summer terms. As previously mentioned, swimming lessons aren’t exclusive to the summer season although they are more popular.

Other summer sports

Athletics, Futsal and Oztag are sports we’re already hearing about for the summer months. We haven’t embarked on any activities yet so don’t have direct experience of the enrolment process and cost.

The logistics for Oztag and Futsal seem to be the same as winter sports, where you pay to join the club and parent volunteers run training and coordinate their team for matches. The summer sports I’ve looked at only train and play during the week, there are no weekend matches which is good. I guess it makes space for Nippers!

Australian parenting directory Kidspot has useful articles on winter and summer sports with links to the different sporting organisations: Kidspot winter sport directory,  Kidspot summer sport directory.

Activities that run year long

Indoor activities such as dance, keyboard and other music lessons run throughout the year. To give you an idea of the cost, at my son’s school in Sydney you pay $230 for a 10 week term of 45 minute keyboard lessons that take place as a before or after school activity. For the musically minded, school bands run by a nominated teacher, with before or after school practice, are also popular.

At a glance – taking part in seasonal sports

Here are details of when to enrol \ register for seasonal sports in Australia, and typical season times and durations (individual clubs may differ).

Winter Summer
Registration February \ March August \ September
Season April – August October – February

What sports and extracurricular activities do your kids do in Australia? Do they do more or less that they did ‘back home’? How much do you pay? Please share your experiences, particularly if you’ve got some top tips for other parents relocating to Aus. Thank you.

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