Sweeney Estate Agents support many sporting clubs in the west because of how important participation in junior sport is to a child’s development. Here’s an example of an initiative the Western Region Football League introduced for its under 8 to under 14 teams that demonstrates that football is more than just a game.

Each weekend at the end of every one of the 100 plus junior games played and after the kids shake hands, the two teams get together on the ground for the presentation of the Heartland Award. The coach from the home team will select one player from the opposition who they believe embodies the true essence of the game – that being fair play, fun, involvement and respect for both opposition and umpires. That player will be presented with a special Heartland Award certificate by the home club coach.

It is seen as very important that this award does not necessarily go to the best player. The host club’s coach/team manager often has a chat to the opposition coach/team manager to see if there is anyone they believe should be in contention for the award. For example, there may be a young player who’s showing improvement by kicking with his or her wrong foot or did a shepherd etc. These kids also need recognition and this award provides the opportunity.

The award presentation at the end of the game builds on the impact and meaning behind club’s traditional practice of the players and officials of each team meeting at the end of our games to shake hands. It is a public display of the clubs’ culture of ‘showing respect for opponents as well as displaying good sportsmanship’. The award is an effective way to teach young players an important life skill in that, while it’s always good to win, the old adage “it’s not whether you win or lose – it’s how you play the game that counts” is an important element in our junior player’s development.

The weekly winners of the Heartland Award receive a certificate of recognition, which includes a 10 per cent discount off all Official Western Bulldogs merchandise from the Bulldogs Shop located at Whitten Oval and at Etihad Stadium on Bulldog game days. Each winner is also able to register online to win a major prize of a unique Western Bulldogs Experience with Bulldogs star and Heartland Award ambassador, Marcus Bontempelli, plus a special guided tour of Whitten Oval and its training facilities.

Clubs and parents are able to forward photos of the Heartland Award presentations to the WRFL for publishing on the League’s website.

Sweeney Estate Agents Yarraville: 33 Anderson Street. Phone: 9687 8388



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