Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 11 Opposition: Warrandyte Score: N/A


Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophie Bush , Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Adam Johnson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jaedon Kuah, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Absent: Romah Halcrow, Ari Ziskov, Anthony Haralambopoulos

Captains for the Day: Jacob Kalcovski

It seemed like an eternity since we played our last match (back on June 24th to be exact), after a two-week mid-season break. From the two training sessions we had during the two-week school holiday break, I felt our Catters were in ‘ready-to-play’ mode and I was certainly getting some sense of white-line fever for getting back on the field to coach. It was the first of five remaining matches for the season and our opponents today were Warrandyte. The one game which haunted our Under8’s team last year was the one against the team we played today. Not necessarily because of the opposition, but because of where we played. We were scheduled to play in the middle of winter on an oval which reflected an ice-rink – the temperature was so low that the morning dew formed a sheet of ice covering the oval. It was quite a surreal sight. All of the players, including our Catters, struggled with the freezing conditions, so much so that their running reflected that of a dawdling penguin – so cold you could barely lift your feet off the ground.

I dreaded the same this week – middle of July – a cold morning forecast – no, please for the sake of the children – not another snow trip!

It was a little chilly this Sunday morning, but nowhere near the freezing temperatures that we encountered some twelve months ago. Whilst leaving home, the temperature gauge in the car displayed a cool seven degrees but as soon as I turned into Warrandyte Reserve Number 2 – the gauge had plummeted to a chilly three degrees. The oval is surrounded by tall trees with very little, if any of the low lying sunlight able to peak through the dense foliage.

Yes it was cold, but the players had prepared for the conditions. A few extra layers of clothing appeared to do the trick although there were a few of our Catters who kept their hoodies on

right up until they had to take the field to start the match. It was also a special day for our Doncaster Catters with a couple of new players to join the squad over the two week break. Welcome Adam Johnson and Jaedon Kuah.

Jacob, our captain for the day, won the toss. We kicked to the more open side of the ground (or the end with a lot less trees). The was no real breeze to speak of but the chill and lack of sunlight weren’t making conditions any easier. But we surged on.

Warrandyte had a number of tall imposing players in their group. I was somewhat taken aback with the height of the opposition player which took position at the centre throw up against one or our taller players, Jacob. This player’s height almost surpassed that of the field umpire who didn’t lack any height himself. Nevertheless, our Doncaster Cats started in their own imposing style. Despite Warrandyte’s height, our tackling was ferocious. We were bringing a number of players to ground or making it extremely difficult to get an easy possession out. Sean looked composed with a number of loose ball gets from pack scrimmages and Jack Glenn took the game on with a couple of blistering runs from the centre zone.

Warrandyte’s advances forward looked dangerous for our defensive zone but our defenders took their chances and managed to set-up some nice thrusts down the outer-wing where a number of players took some clean chest marks.

There was a great passage of play where our Catters managed to deliver the ball from deep within our defensive zone to some fifteen metres from our scoring zone. The passage of play was halted by a pack formation. Warrnandyte managed to swoop the ball from the stoppage and quickly take it to their forward zone and score a long goal from one of their many tall players. It seemed to have taken the wind and early enthusiasm out of our players. For the remainder of the quarter, our tackling efforts dropped and our chasing and delivery of the football to teammates lacked system and direction.

Tom and I highlighted at the quarter time break about the importance of assisting each other within the zones. We identified that there were a number of occasions where our Catters would be on there own surrounded by opposition players without having an option close by to fend the ball off to. More effort had to be made by players to move quicker to the play to assist a teammate.

However, it appears that the message failed to get through and the the second quarter was filled with abundant scoring opportunities for the opposition. Our kicking continued to be ill-directed and very little support for our ball carriers who once again were continually ambushed by Warrandyte players with very little time to decide on where to deliver the ball to. The ‘peppering’ of scoring attempts by Warrandyte began to have a negative impact on our Catters playing attitude as they began to lose their customary second efforts I’ve always admired even when they felt that things were not going their way. Some shining lights in that quarter were Paul who managed to clear the ball a number of times out of defence. Robert also tried valiantly across the centre but was trapped by opposition players due to the lack of teammate support nearby.

The players non-excitement of grabbing a half-time orange was a sure sign that their attitude to playing out the game was not something they were looking forward to. I ordered all of them to take an orange to keep up their energy levels and decided to separate the playing group into their playing zones so that the coaching staff could reiterate their roles within that zone and how everyone’s contribution is important to achieve the type of play we wanted to achieve.

This seemed to have done the trick as from around the three minute mark of the third quarter, our players, especially our defensive group were beginning to direct a lot of traffic out of their zone and into the centre. There seemed to be more cohesion amongst the Catters, as they began to zone off in in pairs so they could offer each other support should the ball fall close by. The ball was really travelling around the ground a lot more, rather than staying in the opposition’s forward zone. There were superb efforts from Surena who attacked the ball with great vigour, Jack G who collected a lot of the football and cleared it out of the danger area and Nicholas who played his usual attacking style of game. Sophia was bringing the ball to ground and causing a few stoppages in defence also and it appeared that Warrandyte’s previous free-flowing scoring opportunities were beginning to dry up.

Our tackling became as vigorous as it was earlier in the match with a number of superb tackles by Robert, Finn ‘Gormo and Finn Dullard being rewarded. Jordan was beginning to have presence in the centre also and not afraid to challenge a couple of opponents in tight pack formations. Our efforts became more personified with the ‘mosquito’ Lucas, who demonstrated that his size doesn’t disadvantage his ability or endeavour to tackle hard, chase and push the ball forward at all costs. He practically moved the ball forward some twenty metres on his own, rolling with the ball, being tackled, tapping it in front, and then kicking the ball further forward by trapping it and kicking it whilst lying on his side. It was pretty inspirational stuff. Excellent work Lucas.

The players seemed to have picked up another gear by three-quarter-time and the raiding of the snakes was totally opposite to that of the oranges some fifteen minutes earlier.

I think the players began to realise that their efforts were paying off in small rewards. A lot of the football was falling their way and the kicks and possessions were becoming more frequent amongst the group rather than that of the opposition. I only encouraged them to continue their attack on the football as they did in that third quarter.

And they did. Some stand-out play by a number of our defensive group of players – this time Jacob, Jack Glenn who seems to be enjoying a defensive role and Paul began to ease into the game with some clearing kicks. Warrandyte’s drought of goals was broken mid-way through the last term with a couple of them luckily bouncing from kicks which were clearly impacted by Doncaster defensive pressure. We managed to finally reward ourselves right on the siren with a free-kick given to Mark for a high tackle some fifteen metres from goal. He went back and kicked truly to register his first goal as a Cat – the first of many I think he’ll kick as a Doncaster Cat.

There were definite positive signs to take away from the second half of the match. It truly showed that no matter how imposing and hard the task might be, you can always overcome that fear of attempting it by simply just giving it a go – take the risk! Our Catters clearly did that today. We really want to see that attitude and work rate in our last four games.

Our next challenge is Beverley Hills R at home this coming Sunday.

Let Go Cats!!!!!!!

Again, our sincere thanks goes to all the efforts of the rest of the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis

Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpire: Madhi Athari

Trainer/1st Aid: Gavin Dullard

Oranges and Snakes: Leo and Leanne Kalcovski

Home Team Coach’s Award: Surena Athari (Doncaster) Away Team Coach’s Award: Zane Adams (Warrandyte)

Coach’s Awards:

Best Team Player: Jack Glenn Encouragement Award: Surena Athari Coach’s Award: Nicholas Barradeen

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 9 Opposition: Whitehorse Colts Score: N/A


Our Team for the day:

Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Absent: Romah Halcrow,Sophie Bush,Thomas Raffoul, Ari Ziskov

Captains for the Day: Anthony Haralambopoulos and Paul Savopoulos

Our Round 9 clash would not be memorable purely for the match we played but for the extreme weather events which practically ‘engulfed’ our city on this eerie Sunday morning. A wet and gusty morning was forecast and sure enough the forecasters got it right. Some ten millimetres of rain had hit the city by 9:00 am and a darkness fell around the Doncaster and nearby areas which only led you to think that this rain was in no hurry of stopping soon. A couple of flashes of lightning and a torrential downpour which reflected a Queensland wet season monsoon kept the windscreen wipers grinding at full speed as I made my way down to Springfield Park to coach our Doncaster Cats take on the Whitehorse Colts.

So there we all were, as our team members arrived with their families. We all shared a common ‘nervous’ smile to acknowledge the unusual conditions our Donnie Cats would be playing in. It’s not that we weren’t used to any rain. We had encountered showers in our first clash of the season and we were no stranger to the extremities of cold foggy mornings where not only you could not see some ten metres in front of you but you could actually see the tips of your fingers turn blue if you stood still or a couple of minutes.

I was glad that the team began to handball their footys and move around the change-room in readiness for the match. Although it wasn’t much, I felt it was enough to at least get them to generate some warmth into their bodies as we all knew that as soon as they hit the oval for the serious stuff, the chilling wind that accompanied the on-going rain would most likely shift their moods to something a little more uncomfortable – to say the least. As kids, we all liked the rain and doing crazy things in it. I was happy to see that our Catters still shared this feeling as we all ran onto the water-logged ground. Plenty of smiles all round as the rain began to tumble. I’m not sure if any of my pre-match address had sunk into our Catters heads as they

all took their positions. I’d never seen such a keen bunch of players to take a football field, especially in my time as coach! Our captains Paul and Anthony had won the toss and chose to kick to the Springfield Road end of the ground.

As expected, the match began with some desperate possession tussles around the middle of the ground with the ball not making much leeway into a vacant area of the ground. There always seemed to be a player or three wanting to take clear possession of the ball as it made it’s way to either end of the centre zone. However, these clear grasps of the football were just not happening as any attempt to cleanly get a handball or kick away was met by an opponents tackle or the ball not making any clear contact with a boot. The players were taking it all in their stride with the rain, the wind and nothing was going to stop them.

Whitehorse Colts managed to get the early break and gradually made their way towards goal. We had some strong defensive play out of the backline by Jacob who managed a couple of nice grabs in the back pocket and some nice footwork to get himself out of some heavy traffic. Nicholas played his usual early reliable role in defence by placing himself in the goal square and come away with the ball as the Whitehorse Colts pushed heavily with some attempted long kicks out of a congested forward zone. Despite the couple of goals the Colts were able to sneak through, I thought our defence really stood strong. Our tackling was fierce, with a number of Colts players miss-kicking due to the pressure some of our Catters were putting on their opponents. Mark’s confidence began to build with every possession with a couple of impressive clearances from the centre and Paul repelled a number of forward advances from the opposition with some telling wet-weather chest marks in defence. Surena lifted a notch in the centre also with his tackling and attack on the football. Sean also contributed well with some fine work across the centre zone.

At the quarter-time break I could see a number of our Donnie cats players’ earlier feelings of excitement and nervousness of playing in the conditions were beginning to take a different turn. I do recall playing football on similar type days in my “junior football” years and I look at them quite fondly but I would agree that they were not always pleasant. The grounds were heavier and I do recall that it would rain more frequently than it does these days. We had possibly become more accustomed to playing in those types of conditions. However the comparison between then and a generation later are very much different with rain falling less frequently these days and the exorbitant amount of money we pay in local rates we expect much improved curated playing football ground surfaces as opposed to the quagmires of yesteryear. In the year and a half I’ve spent coaching, I could possibly count on one hand the times we had played on a wet day. So I could empathise with how the players were feeling – they weren’t used to playing in this type of weather. Additionally, we haven’t had the opportunity to train in this type of weather either. So I was pretty proud of our bunch at quarter-time, re-assuring them that this would probably be the only time this year we’d have to play in extreme conditions like this. I also assured them that kicking long (and not nessarily to a Doncaster Cats target) was the key object of today’s game from this point given the conditions. A quick spill or ball drop at the base of any pack after a long kick could result in a scoring opportunity.

With the rain still tumbling and the breeze still reaching into any gap within our weather-proof clothing, we soldiered on with the second quarter. We were jumped early by the Colts who were fortunate enough to kick a couple of dribble type goals despite some desperate efforts from some of our defence. Jack and Anthony tried valiantly to defend some quick long

kicks coming in from the centre zone. Finn D trapped a couple of bouncing ball advances within the defensive zone. During a couple of kick-ins from defence by our Cats, I noticed that there was little offer from our defensive group presenting themselves as targets to kick to which was very much out of character for our group. I can only assume that the weather was now taking its toll on a number of players.

We did manage late in the quarter to advance forward. A couple of our centre zoned players combined well to set up the advantage with some clever marks and quick pack clearances, notably from players such as Cruz and Nick. Paul carried on with his good form from the first quarter and handled the ball with some impressive skills, laying some strong tackles and marking the ball on a number of occasions. Mark continued to throw himself at the ball up forward which allowed him to break through with a couple of kicks and also allowed a number of our other forwards some free reign on the football with some strong shepherding. One significant shepherd gave Surena the opportunity to cleanly retrieve a loose ball from the bottom of the pack, weave his way around of a couple of opponents and kick a well-deserved goal much to the delight his team-mates and parents supporters. Soon after the siren sounded to signal half-time.

With the rain not letting up, we decided to move over to the players bench for some much needed weather protection. A number of our players were struggling with settling in the conditions and I could hardly blame them. I asked the members of our team if any of them they would struggle playing on. A significant amount of arms were raised and a couple of player parents were understandably concerned decided to withdraw from the playing team for the day.

After discussions amongst both teams managers, it was decided that the match would be cancelled given the conditions and that a number of players from both teams were unable to play on.

Despite the game being cut short, I was immensely proud of our Catters. They gave it red hot go and I couldn’t have asked much more from them. They were truly inspirational and we could never doubt that this team is ready to take on any challenge, anywhere. Well done team – you’re a fantastic group to coach.

Lets do it all again in our Round 10 clash against Park Orchards at Stintons Reserve next Sunday. Hopefully the weather won’t be as crazy.

Again, our sincere thanks goes to all the efforts of the rest of the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis

Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpire: Geoff Bush

Trainer/1st Aid: John Savopoulos

Oranges and Snakes: John and Helen Savopoulos/Jim and Gabby Haralambopoulos

Home Team Coach’s Award: Paul Savopoulos (Doncaster)

Away Team Coach’s Award: Lachlan Bainbridge (Whitehorse Colts)

Coach’s Awards:

Best Team Player: Mark Nicola

Encouragement Award: Surena Athari

Coach’s Award: Paul Savopoulos

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 8 Opposition: Park Orchards B Score: N/A


Our Team for the day:

Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Sophia Bush, Robert Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Romah Halcrow, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Ari Ziskov Absent: Lucas Tomkins, Jack Glenn

Captain for the Day: Jordan Katsonis

It was a very different setting as we arrived for our Round 8 clash with Park Orchards. The sunshine and warmth of our Under 9’s Day the week before decided to take a sleep-in and what greeted us instead was a dense heavy fog, almost zero temperatures and the hope that our young Catters would be wearing extra layers to enable them to move in less than ideal surroundings. The bonus was that we were finally playing at home after being on the road for the good part of the month.

We encouraged our team to get their blood flow peaking by taking a mild jog around the boundary with a number of them refusing to depart with their DJFC hoodies until seconds before the siren sounded to start the game. Our captain, Jordan had luck on his side and decided to kick towards the JJ Tully end much to the benefit of our DJFC spectators. There was no advantage type breeze nor did the fog look like it was going to lift in any hurry.

On mornings such as this, it’s hard for any of us to get moving or motivated to do anything. Not our Catters. In fact it was such a blistering start by our team that I think our team was left wondering if what had happened in that first couple of minutes was real. It has been a very rare occurrence that our Catters have troubled the scoring so early in a game. After clearing the ball quickly out of the centre zone soon after the opening ball up, Cruz took a nice chest mark at the top of the forward zone. He went back and sinked his powerful left boot into the football. The ball sailed high and long and over the goal umpire’s head for a goal. A number of our players were in shock at the speed of how early we scored. They didn’t know whether to celebrate, run back to their positions or questioned whether the game had actually started! No matter how you saw it, It was a wonderful start and one which put us in an energetic frame of

mind for the rest of the quarter. Park Orchards battled hard to make ground into their forward zone but our defence held firm with Ari and Nick showing strong presence with some nice clearance work. They bustled through packs and ran with the ball a number of times and cleverly looked for players up the ground to deliver the ball to.

Our centre zone players controlled the majority of the quarter with Robert getting a large amount of touches and Sean kicking the football to the advantage of some of our centre-zone team mates.

Tom and I encouraged the team to continue the fine possession type football they played for the majority of the first quarter. I could sense that the team were beginning to execute the approach their coaches have been highlighting for the last couple of the weeks during matches and what was being practiced during Wednesday night training. Our Catters had developed a habit of kicking the ball to pack situations rather than looking for a player who was loose. There were some good signs in the early part of the first quarter where the loose option was being chosen by our players who had possession.

In the second term, our Catters covered a heap of ground with no real scoring advantage. Our centre zone players took possession of the ball numerous times but a number of their kicks were wide and acted as no real threat to the opposition. Robert collected plenty of the football with some clever marks, Nicholas continued to make an impact with our forward advances and Jacob stepped in with some good defensive work as the ball soared into Park Orchards forward zone numerous times. We never really troubled the scoreboard in this quarter but our endeavour and tenacity at the contest was awesome and triggered some real admiration from our boundary line support groups. Samuel stood tall in a couple stoppages whereby he cleverly looked sideways to pass the ball off to one of his free team mates. He was judged harshly by some nearby opposition players for an earlier kick which slid off the side of his boot whilst attempting to kick forward. It was quite rewarding however to see Samuel make amends with a better kick a few moments later from the same spot to a Doncaster player in a better position. It truly reflected on the theme of the second term that we had fought and recovered from many of our mistakes as the quarter progressed. The only souring point was the late goal by Park Orchards which could have been prevented if one of our golden rules of defence had been adhered to. The opposition goal square was left open with none of our Catters covering the ‘hot spot’ which allowed a number of Park Orchards players to raffle the ball off to march in and kick an easy goal.

Despite the hard running and work performed by our Donnie Cats in the second quarter, we still had a number of players ‘thawing’ out from the chilly conditions. The fog appeared to be getting heavier and the chill in the air remained as brutal as it did prior to the match commencing. A drink of water in these conditions felt more like a dare for most players as the ambient chilliness took hold. I was concerned that our players were letting the conditions overwhelm them and to undo the good work they had put together already in the first half. However, my concerns were alleviated with a rather satisfying performance from our Catters during the third quarter.

All players from all the zones contributed in some of the greatest team work put together by our Under 9’s this year so far. We stood tall in defence, placing a great amount of defensive pressure. Robert led the defensive line breaks with some elusive ball swooping from the pack formations, Anthony adhered to the defensive rule of staying back in the defensive goal square to and managed to collect and clear the ball on a couple of occasions.

Sophie and Jack H were able to drag a number of the opposition players down in the centre to minimise any possibility of a forward advance. Paul, who had a hand in some nice play set-ups in the first half really made his presence felt in the third quarter with a number of opportunities he managed to conjure with his demand on the football due to some clever field positioning – he has a true knack of reading the play and can see that this attribute can only get better as he continues to play. Jordan contributed solidly also up forward with his regular ferocious tackling and presented himself well as a loose player up forward on more than a couple of occasions. It was evident that the conditions were impacting his overall match performance today. However, his diligence and determination shone through and battled through on courageously.

We topped off the quarter with two rather inspirational goals. The first one, from Nicholas who had both the crowd and opposition wondering what he was doing at first surprised everyone with the strategy he used to take his shot at goal. Nicholas took a mark on the border of the centre and our forward zone mark and proceeded to run the other way. He ran past half-way down the centre with his team mates indicating to him that was heading in the opposite direction. He finally turned around to take his long ‘run-up’ to shoot at the goal. Half-way though his run-up routine, he realised that no opposition player was standing on his mark so he grabbed the opportunity to kick the ball back to himself to play on and then send the ball sailing for a long and memorable goal which set the crowd alight. The second goal of the quarter came on the back of a strong overhead mark taken by Sean some ten metres out from goal on a tight angle. He arched his run up to better improve his angle and put the ball right through the middle.

Looking back on the day as I write this, I do regret not highlighting the effort our Catters had made in the match so far in my three-quarter time address. In the light of the not so ideal conditions, I think our Donnie Cats could really stand tall with the strong and gritty performance they had put in so far. If I had prefaced my address with the pride and admiration I had of their play perhaps our contribution in the last to follow-on and continue our third-quarter effort, perhaps they may have dug that little bit deeper to better it. They may not have bettered it but they certainly equalled it in a tireless display of true and honest effort. The rewards in scoring weren’t there but I was certainly proud of their tackling, focus on the football and intensity despite the a) the early start and b) the less than ideal conditions they endured to put their skills and bodies to the test.

We’ve now already reached the middle of the season and I know that our young Catters can all take a short break from our Sunday games for a week. I’m sure that even our Catters Mums and Dads will make the most of the Queens Birthday week-end break and will prefer the warmth of a cosy bed than the draft of an early morning driving breeze to a Arctic looking football oval. Hopefully our remaining seven rounds of footy mornings aren’t as icy as the summit of Mount Buller after a July snow-shower. Have a great break everyone and I’ll see you on the 17th of June for our Round 9 clash against Whitehorse Colts at Springfield Park.

As usual, our sincere thanks for all the efforts of the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis

Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn

Field Umpire: Corey Bakes Goal Umpire: Jim Haralambopoulos

Trainer/1st Aid: Gavin Dullard

Time-keeper: Yi Shao

Canteen: Annabel Bakes and Leanne Kalcovski

Oranges and Snakes: Tom and Anne Katsonis

Home Team Coach’s Award: Charli Phelan (Park Orchards B) Away Team Coach’s Award: Nick Barradeen (Doncaster)

Coach’s Awards:

Best Team Player: Robert Bush Encouragement Award: Sophia Bush Coach’s Award: Nick Barradeen

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 7 Opposition: Under 9’s Day Score: N/A


Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Rested: Sophia Bush

Every year, the YJFL assigns a day for the Under 9’s teams from different multiple region competitions for a round-robin based event day. Teams from around the state compete within groups against other teams which do not belong to the same region.

Our round robin group consisted of the following teams: Doncaster Fitzroy 1 Ivanhoe B Park Orchards R Richmond Y

The event is usually held at Bulleen Park which consists of multiple footy ovals so it’s the perfect venue. Despite the chaos that such a large event may attract, it really is a fun day where the players get to enjoy their football in a carnival-like atmosphere and the parents get to interact with the other parents at a more social level. There’s also wonderful food provided and shared by all of our Under 9’s families – although perhaps a little too much food for our Catters to digest as they have a quota of four matches to play during the day’s event.

The one factor which concerned me, and probably more so the organisers, is the weather. Thankfully, not a drop of rain during today’s proceedings. The sun was out as we arrived and wasn’t covered by clouds until well after the event had come to an end. And fortunately enough, the temperature hovered around the high teens for most of the morning.

Four games in the space of three hours. These matches consisted of two seven-minute halves with players having to be ready and positioned as the siren sounded at the start of each
match. Given the number of surrounding activities, our young group were able to control the distraction incidences to a surprising-low number and were ready to take the field when due, although the constant answer to which way were we kicking had to be reinforced, even during a match.

Once the DJFC marquee had arrived and quickly assembled by our wonderful parents, it was time for our young Cats to experience some short burst type footy. I found it difficult with each match of not being able to coach and instruct on-field as I do with regular matches during the season. The players just seemed way too far away to acknowledge anything I had to say (probably not a bad thing!)

In our first match against Fitzroy1, both teams fought desperately for quick and clean possession but found it difficult to trap the ball in either of their forward halves for an extended period of time. Some strong attacking by our defenders managed to clear the ball when it reached deep in the opposition’s forward zone. Some great work by Ari and Finn Gormo steadied some of Fitzroy’s deep forward advances, and they were serviced well by some great centre zone contributors such as Robert and Cruz.

Our second match for the day was against Ivanhoe B. What was a pretty scruffy affair in the first half, it was highlighted by a remarkably tight Doncaster defence which was led solidly by Paul. He took mark after mark as the high kicks for the opposition soared in and he also managed to break away from a couple of pack situations. Jordan was the clear stand-out in the second half for Doncaster, as the ball rarely exited our forward zone. He and Lucas are well known in our team to be the strongest notable tacklers. Lucas is able to grasp his opponents with his hear-hug like grip,(which he also is able to double up with his legs as he has a tendency to grasp to stop the player’s forward running). Jordan is practically able to almost lift his opponent off the ground or drag them along the turf, it’s all in the matter from which angle he’s able to grab hold of the them. Along with a couple of tackles he managed to collect a loose ball deep in the forward pocket and performed a quick snap towards goal only to sadly veer to the right of the goals to sail through for a behind. Apart from this incredible play by Jordan, there were some excellent contributors in the centre such as Sean and Jack G. Mark also fought hard. And Cruz took a courageous mark running back into a pack. It was one of our better performances for the day.

Although I, Tom and the rest of our parent support group were buoyed by the effort displayed by our Catters in the second match, it was clearly one-way traffic in our third game against Park Orchards B. It was unusual to have them as opponents on this day as we had already met this team earlier in the regular season. There was a handful of recognisable ‘good’ players I’d identified on the Park Orchards side who had dominated the play in those earlier games and again in both halves today. Their long kicking and ‘play-on’ approach really suited this format of game. Since the games are short, the real-attacking focus you have in such a format is to kick long and score as accurate and quickly as possible. It appears that they had adapted to this style better than we had.

Our fourth game against Richmond Y was pretty similar to the third match against Park Orchards. The opposition quickly transferred the ball into their forward zone at lightning speed. There were some valiant efforts made by Nicholas to push the ball forward at times with some run-on play however we were never able to advance to half way into our forward zone. Our defence had worked extremely hard with some notable efforts from Romah and
Lucas to break the lines out of defence. Both teams however began to show signs in the second half of the match that the length of the day was possibly beginning to take its toll in the second half with the ball not moving a great deal between our defensive zone and the centre and very little if any scoring occurring. Tackling was definitely not a strong feature of the half which made it evident that the players began to tire.

Despite the mixed bag of performances today by our Donnie Cats, I’m pleased to know that our young group of players had fun and bonded well with this extra time they were able to spend together both on and off the field. I don’t think morale is ever an issue with a young developing group such as our Under 9s. Days like today would only heighten such an friendly feeling amongst the group. We were yet to sing the Club song this season and since we had such a great time today, I think it will only befit the group to try and sing the song together, even though the coach may have got a little bit of the wording wrong at one stage (it was a long day!)

Since the team exceeds the maximum amount of players able to take the field at any one time, there were some Doncaster players who weren’t not named in for all four matches played today. I would like to thank them for their understanding and for supporting those who were out on the field at the time. Please note, that today’s Under 9’s day is recorded as one match to the player’s current junior football game’s tally.

Thanks again to our assistant coach Tom who managed the shuffling of players accordingly which was no easy task, especially this week. The man can work wonders!

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpires: Chris Halcrow, Matt Barradeen, Eddie Raffoul and Geoff Bush Trainer/1st Aid: John Savopoulos, Sally Evely and Gavin Dullard A special thank you for Rosemarie Glenn for preparing those wonderful sausage rolls she promised – I don’t think there were any left and a big thank you to everyone who contributed with the vast menu of food items available for the group. Suffice to say, I don’t think anyone left the event with an empty stomach. Well done everyone!

I look forward to seeing everyone at Schramms Reserve for our next match on Sunday against Park Orchards B.

The coach’s awards for this week were for those who I believed made a significant contribution and and impact across all games.

Coach’s Awards: Best Team Player: Anthony Haralambopoulos

Encouragement Award: Samuel Klancic

Coach’s Award: Robert Bush

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 6 Opposition: Templestowe Score: N/A


Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Captains for the day: Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Nick Barradeen

Rested: Robert Bush

We headed into unknown territory today for our Round 6 clash against Templestowe at Templestowe Reserve. We had never been fixtured against this team as an Under 8’s side in 2017. Upon speaking with the opposition coach during the teams’ arrival and pre-game warmups, he had stated that they also had had a merger of their Under 8’s with their Under 9’s teams due to a lack of numbers. Finally! (I thought to myself). We weren’t the only ones as a Club with the same issue and more importantly, we appeared more matched with this side than other teams we’ve played so far this season – both in size and ‘perhaps’ skill-level. I was certainly keen to find out.

We were pretty much close to full strength in numbers this morning apart from Robert who’d had a accidental fall during the week and was suffering some minor headaches even as late as Wednesday during training. So for the greater welfare and safety of Robert we had made the strong recommendation for Robert to miss this week’s match. We did however, utilise Robert as our interchange messenger for the day.

One of our joint captain’s for the day , Finn’s (Gormo) coin toss choice didn’t go as expected and Templestowe chose to kick with a slight breeze on their backs towards the fixed goal-post end.

My first impressions as the teams lined-up to take the field was that we did seem evenly matched in height and size with Templestowe. Our previous oppositions so far this season had varied greatly in height and size, some being much taller (beanstalks in comparison) and greater in build compared to some of our young Catters. But today, I thought it would be a
great test for our Cats to play an opposition which looked fairly similar in stature. We played with a group of 17 on the field (6 in the forward zone, 6 in the back zone and 5 in the middle).

It was a tight start, with a heap of scrums forming around every ten metres and it wasn’t any surprise that the umpire called for a ball-up on every occasion. Templestowe eventually got the break with a couple of unfortunate free kicks against us for some high tackles. They zoned deep into the forward line with a number of excited Templestowe players straying their kicks. We eventually worked our way out of the danger zone through some attacking play by Finn Gormo. It’s becoming a familiar sight every week with Finn bustling his way out of defence. His co-captain, Nick was at his defensive best also, weaving his way out of packs and managing to kick it forward to the centre zone. The match began to open up however after the first five minutes. Templestowe had a number of shorter players who were quite confident in running with the ball, and on the odd occasion having a bounce or two. There was a great deal of sky-balls in this quarter (meaning just high kicks) where both teams simply kicked the ball in reaction without any real purpose towards a team-mate up the ground. Templestowe managed to kick a goal late in the quarter but our Catters worked hard in nearly every position on the ground. I was quite satisfied with how they had contested the ball in that quarter but we had to make some changes to how our ball was being delivered up the ground, especially from our centre zone.

Templestowe made an early run in the second quarter with the ball exiting the centre zone into their forward zone with some long kicking. Again, they peppered the big sticks on a couple of occasions without any majors. I was determined however that our defensive zone should not have to work any harder than it already had. We managed to clear the ball out of danger via some precision kicking from Surena to Finn Gormo. Anthony began working his way into the game with a couple of strong marks and Finn Dullard managed to get his hands on a couple of skying shots towards goal which looked like certainties to sail through. Lucas tackled ferociously as ever and as always managed to get his disposal out despite the rough attention he received from an opposition’s tackle.

We challenged late in the quarter with some advances forward, nicely set-up by Mark who was getting plenty of touches around the forward end of the centre zone. Jacob took a solid overhead Mark from a purposeful kick from Paul some twenty metres out from goal. Despite his good intentions, Jacob did attempt a big kick but sadly executed it poorly onto his foot to see it sway off the side of his boot. He also had another chance from another mark two minutes later from around the same distance out from goal. His kick on this occasion however veered to the left as he kicked the ball across his body for extra distance. Jack G also had a couple of shots from around twenty metres out. One was on a tight angle, almost a metre in from the boundary which missed to the near side and another looked like it was sailing through only to be marked on the last line of defence by the opposition. I was overly impressed on how our forward zone were able to keep the opposition’s defence working hard. Sofia and Samuel brought the ball to ground on a number of occasions, nicely setting up some valuable stoppages which prevented the defence setting up any play further up the ground.

The half-time (orange-feast) address consisted of the same message to the players during our training session on the Wednesday night – avoid kicking to a pack of players but rather to a pair of players, or better still to a lone Donnie Cats player. A number of our Catters were still simply kicking it forward in hope that a team-mate would eventually mark or recover the pack spill but luck was not favouring us on any occasion in this match so far.

Although I stated earlier that I believed we matched Templestowe’s size, their advantage that I could not foresee was their running capacity. A number of their players may have been shorter in stature but were able to outrun some of our Catters and were confident in the space they had between themselves and the opposition at times to go for the occasional bounce.

It wasn’t that easy however in the third quarter as our Catters played close to their opposition counterparts, tackling strongly, especially within the centre ball-ups. Jack G had a huge number of clearances from a lot of the centre stoppages and kicked the ball long into our forward zone at least half-a-dozen times. This set-up some real opportunities up forward. Thomas made his presence felt with a couple of attempts to break the pack deep within our goal-square. His eyes literally lit up where he managed to scoop the ball out of pack spill and moved frantically to try and kick the ball on his preferred right side but sadly was brought to ground before he had a chance to get his foot to it. He punched his right-fist into his left palm as a sign of frustration for his missed opportunity. I can promise you this Thomas, if you consistently show that endeavour every week, you’ll be kicking plenty of goals in your junior football journey.

The real highlight in the quarter however came when Cruz had a strong purple patch in which he almost single-handedly took apart the whole of Templestowe’s defence. He was placed into the forward zone after half-time and he kicked three magnificent goals (in a row) to bring Doncaster back into the match. His first goal came from a mark not too far from goal. This was followed up from a quick clearance out of the forward zone where he managed to spin out of the pack, turn on his left foot and see it sky over the goal-umpire’s head. His third was even better as he ran out from the pocket with the ball that had spilled from a Doncaster tackle, stopped, turned sized up the target and once again put it well over the goal-umpire’s head. It certainly had quietened the opposition players for a little while. Cruz continued to dominate the quarter, taking almost every mark as the ball entered the forward zone. So much was his dominance and influence that most of his team-mates were looking to pass the ball to him to possibly set-up to do something ‘magical’. Superb stuff Cruz!

I also have to acknowledge a great deal of the work which was coming from further up the ground which made Cruz’s scoring possible. Mark continued his solid work effort with some clever ball use near the top end of the forward zone, Romah bustled some of his opponents to allow his forward team-mates a clear passage to run. It had changed the momentum of the game somewhat where even the opposition began to realise it wasn’t all about them and their scoring.

The kids were confident that they could fight it out in the last – especially with the extra challenge I asked of them – to let our defenders rest for a change by having the ball in our forward half for the majority of the quarter. They did manage this for at least half of the quarter which was a superb effort. We really took it up to the opposition with some of our classic tackling out on display. One of our leaders when it comes to applying the tackle is Jordan. Despite his light frame, his arms and hands can be vice-like around the waistlines of the opposition. Late in the quarter, our Cats had the Templestowe defenders on the back-foot deep within our goal-square trying to clear the hot defensive area with a series of handballs. As a Templestowe defender received a handball from a team-mate, the recipient saw an opening to take off and clear with a kick to the defensive pocket. Little did he know that Jordan was right on his tail who lunged at him and securely trapped his arms leaving his
opponent with very little opportunity to dispose of the ball correctly. Jordan also made sure of the tackle by bringing the player down to the ground – something he was consciously aware of after the match that could have cost him the free kick. Thankfully however, the umpire rewarded Jordan for his huge tackling effort and Jordan sweetened the reward further by putting it through for Doncaster’s fourth goal for the match.

There were some good signs from this match which we can take into next week’s actionpacked Under 9’s Day next Sunday at Bulleen Park. Also, we have the added bonus of having Robert return to play in the horizontal navy blue and white hoops – thanks for being a great sport Robert and helping out with our interchange and messaging throughout today’s match.

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Field Umpire: Paul Hanson Goal Umpire: Ross Klancic Trainer/1st Aid: John Savopoulos Oranges & Snakes: Matt and Anne Barradeen (Oranges) /Sean O’Gorman & Fiona Carpenter (Snakes)

Home Team Coach’s Award: Cruz Qian (Doncaster) Away Team Coach’s Award: Finn Huber (Templestowe)

Coach’s Awards: Best Team Player: Jordan Katsonis Encouragement Award: Romah Halcrow

Coach’s Award: Cruz Qian



Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 5 Opposition: Bullen-Templestowe G Score: N/A

Our Team for the day:
Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Captain for the day: Thomas Raffoul

Absent: Romah Halcrow

It was a wonderful feeling to be amongst the company of the familiar surroundings of Schramms Reserve for our Round 5 clash against one of the two Bullen-Templestowe teams in our Under 9’s competition. Today we celebrated two great things. Firstly, our fantastic Mums and secondly the DJFC acknowledged the great work of Beyond Blue, a wonderful Australian independent non-for-profit organisation which addresses issues associated with depression, anxiety and mental disorders. All of our DJFC team members today wore blue wristbands for the cause. It was our attempt to raise the awareness of the many of members of our community and beyond who suffer in silence with their metal health issues and to reach out to them and to ease the burden of the stigma associated with these illnesses.

Being Mother’s Day, I’m always enthralled by the amount of Mums who turn out to this particular morning’s junior matches, especially the early ones, like ours AGAIN today. We all know that they probably should be enjoying that extra piece of burnt toast or under-cooked bacon and eggs or catching up on that one day of extra sleep-in on their special day. But not our Mums, nope, out they all came, proud and ready to support our players no matter what day it is. Great stuff ladies!

The weather this morning was a true indication that winter was on the horizon. Some decent rain had fallen in the last couple of days and the ground was once again, for probably the first time this year, comfortable under foot. Some of the clouds broke away and we managed to capture a little of the vitamin D rays during periods of our match. Well, enough of the Bureau of Meteorology and the Jane Bunn attempt of a so-called forecast, let’s jump in and see what today’s game had to offer.

Our captain Thomas was unsuccessful in the result of the toss with Bulleen-Templestowe (BT) deciding to kick to the eastern side of the ground in the first quarter.

We played with an extended amount of players on each team today. The BT coach and I agreed to have everyone play on the field in the first quarter at least. We donated a number of players to BT since throughout the game since our Under 9s team had the greater amount of players available.

BT started off quickly out of the blocks, managing a few shots at goal early as once again our defensive lines were put under pressure due to the amount of quick ball movement from BT within their forward zone. As he has done throughout the course of the season, Nicholas wrestled his way around packs with the ball, clearing the ball with variations of attack such as running with the ball tucked under his arm, kicking long and valiantly throwing himself to the goal-line to prevent major scoring from the opposition. Admittedly, BT had a large number of “height-advantaged” players with a gifted assortment of agility which caught our Catters off guard which appeared to be a pattern seen throughout the whole game. Our defence, stood strong with Mark, who has shown some real development and settling with his football in the last three weeks. Finn Gormo showed his pace around packs and Robert also combined well to stem the forward advances of BT. Our centre zone worked hard but couldn’t manage to trap the ball in their favour to feed our forward zone. The first quarter was marred by an unfortunate incident late in the quarter as Finn ‘Gormo’ attempted to retrieve the football from over the fence after it was kicked through for a BT point. In his attempt, Finn lost control of his arm co-ordination to climb over the fence and landed awkwardly which resulted with a nasty bump on his head and a painful arm twist. It was quite concerning to hear the pain Finn was in as there was a hush amongst the crowd which indicated some concern for Finn. Sean, Finn’s dad, who was assigned the task of time-keeper for the match ran out to Finn and with Sally our trainer was taken to the sidelines for assessment and treatment for his injury. Fortunately, Finn only suffered a slight scratch on the head and a very sore arm but was recommended to not take any futher part in the match. The siren soon sounded to end the quarter. Our Catters ran to the quarter time huddle with some shocked and concerned looks on their faces.

I reassured the players that these are accidents that can happen and asked them to not attempt to retrieve the ball from over the fence for the rest of the match. An adult would stand behind the fence to retrieve the ball for them.

I acknowledged that the opposition had a clear height advantage over our Catters however I did encourage the players that they can stop their opposition as I was confident their speed was no real match for the height they personified. The normal rules went out for the defence to stay within arm’s length of their opponents and to tackle as hard as they can. I also made it very clear to our Catters to look for a loose ‘team-mate’ target as this was a true way to ease our advance forward.

Our young Catters responded well. Of the fifteen minute maximum for the quarter, I reckon that we had it in our forward zone for at least the first twelve minutes. BT was solid in defence, but our forward pressure was brutal on the opposition. BT could only repel to as far as the wing position of the centre zone in this period as we fought tooth and nail for the ball. We had two of our shorter players in the centre zone, our captain Thomas and our ‘mosquito’ Lucas. They burrowed hard for the ball, combining well with Jack G. and Robert with Jacob able to shake off a number of tackles. A fantastic pack mark by Lucas brought the Donnie crowd to their feet. He had a number of touches in a small purple patch, despite being tackled numerous times, he managed to get his kick away on most occasions.

Anthony came close to getting his hands on the ball deep in the forward zone, with a handball which fell awkwardly for Nick’s hands to grasp and then attempt to snap which was smothered just centimetres out from goal. We were making our scoring attempts more difficult by kicking to packs rather than looking for a loose option. There were a number of thrusts forward by Doncaster however we just could not manage to score. We had worked so hard to keep it in on our side of the ground for so long. Ari, who was playing for BT in that quarter contributed well to the BT defence in that quarter also.

The third quarter started pretty much like the first quarter. BT however were relentless in their attack with a number of number of nicely positioned kicks being marked at a reasonable distance from their goal. They were equally impressive with their over-head marking with a number of our forward advances easily accounted for with some clever defensive play set-ups coming out of their kick-outs from deep in defence. A few of our players were looking frustrated with the ease that BT were able to get their hands on the ball. The opposition’s handball was equally as impressive (and frustrating for us) as they appeared more slicker and confident in the contest than we were. They seemed to have an answer for every kick we attempted to go forward with. Our tackling was at a high standard but they were able to break these on most occasions as well. I also felt that we lost a little confidence at times as we were attempting short kicks which were in-effective and easily turned over to the opposition. At snake-time, I asked our Catters to apply as much pressure as they could on the opposition and to kick the ball long in an attempt for the chance to pick-up and run with the loose ball to a player further up the ground.
Our Catters tried as valiantly as they could to execute these requests from their coach. We did manage to get a little bit on top in the last quarter with Paul taking a couple of nice chest marks and setting-up play to whiz past out of defence. Thomas again tried hard as did Sofia. Surena managed to get his hands on the ball cleanly and set-up a few forward advances. Jordan succeeded to win a couple of kicks from his customary strong-gripped tackles and Mark set-up some nice defensive clearances to cap off a nice day in the field.

It wasn’t the most memorable of games for our Catters to be a part of however it made it clear to me that even though we had a mixture of younger players (other than Under9’s) within our group, I still think we can take it up to most sides despite how tall or agile their opposition may appear. As coach, I’m forever learning and have always acknowledged that no matter how imposing the opposition may look, we can match them on for periods of the match. We must train and learn on how we can apply the pressure consistently and to encourage our young Catters that the rewards are there if we’re prepared to accept and grow with the challenges.

I’d like to thank and acknowledge the following members of our team who participated for the opposition throughout different stages of the match on the day. You played fairly and in the true spirit of the match.

Sofia, Ari, Samuel, Finn D, Jack H and Anthony.

Hope to all see you all at our Round 6 match next Sunday against Templestowe at Templestowe Reserve.

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis
Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn
Field Umpire: Paul Hanson
Goal Umpire: John Savopoulos
Trainer/1st Aid: Sally Evely
Oranges & Snakes: Eddie and Selma Raffoul
Timekeepers: Sean O’Gorman/Fiona Carpenter
Canteen: Leanne Kalcovski/Anne Barradeen

Home Team Coach’s Award: Number 2 (Bulleen-Templestowe G)
Away Team Coach’s Award: No award presented

Coach’s Awards:
Best Team Player: Mark Nicola
Encouragement Award: Lucas Tomkins
Coach’s Award: Ari Ziskov

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 4 Opposition: Beverley Hills N Score: N/A

MATCH REPORT Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn CarpenterO’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Romah Halcrow, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Captain for the day: Cruz Qian

For reasons beyond our understanding, and probably more of a logistical nightmare for the League, we were playing our third game in a row in away shorts. Not that it mattered to us as our Donnie Catters are ready to take on any team, anywhere.

This week’s match was at a ground we are very familiar with – our training base, Doncaster Reserve against Beverley Hills Navy. It was so familiar that the playing area was set up in the exact part of the ground we train on every week. It was good to have the all of our players available this week with Cruz (Control) Qian drawing the lucky selection as the captain for this week whilst his parents drew the “short straw” in having to prepare the oranges and the snakes for our Catters.

Like most of of other matches so far this season, we were once again gifted with a bright and sunny morning and the blue and white hoops of our Donnie Catters were looking awesome at the Jackson Court end of the ground as they performed some hand-balling and kicking warmup drills.

After a rather erratic training night during the week, which I’ll elaborate on a little later in this report, one of our team managers, Violet, had a chat to the group of players before the match on the importance of listening and respect for our coaches and team-mates. I think it shifted our Catters focus to the task they had at hand, there and then! I re-iterated the message delivered by Violet and I could see in our players’ eyes and body language that they were willing to play the role they were meant to represent the Club and as a team.

And what a team effort it was in that first quarter. In my short stint at coaching, I can never recall such a complete and commanding performance from our Donnie Cats. We actually had the opposition chasing our jumpers and struggling to withhold our attacks into the forward
line for the first five minutes. A number of our players had the opportunity to score but they slightly missed their targets with one of the dribbled attempts performing a ‘leg-break’ at the last critical moment, accompanied with the disappointment growl of our supporter group on the boundary.

When Beverley Hills did finally manage to encroach into their forward line, they were repelled instantaneously, constantly and annoyingly (for our opposition) by Nick who was playing like a kid with three or four twins – he was everywhere! He’d take the ball under his arm and bustle his way through attempted tackles, looking for team mates up the ground with long kicks. He and Finn (Gormo) combined well with impressive passing and handballs to each other coming out of defence. Our centre line played well too, with Jacob once again breaking the lines, Jack G. providing a few clearences early whilst Sean taking some solid marks and gathering the ball impressively around the packs.

I stood in amazement and pride as the kids made their way to the huddle at quarter-time. I couldn’t fault the team at all as they all contributed to apply the correct pressure and teamwork to keep the opposition on the back-foot for the majority of the quarter. A number of our parents came in to the huddle with a spring in their step, with encouraging words and support for our Catters on their performance. Our players looked equally pleased, realising that the hard work and support for each other does lift the tempo and outlook of a game. But we all knew, and so did the players, that our work was far from done.

The momentum continued in the second quarter, with the combination of our back-line in toe once again settling well in repelling a number of attacks by Beverly Hills. Most of the balltraffic in the quarter was played along the outer wing with Doncaster Cats maintaining control for the majority of it. For a few minutes in that quarter, I was pretty silent with instruction as I could hear the opposition coach barking a number of instructions whilst we had the ball, a welcome change perhaps for our Catters! Jack G. featured in a number of clearances, our known tacklers in Jordan and Lucas were at the forefront in some pack situations, not letting their opponents any opportunity to do what they liked. Robert was instrumental in setting up a number of forward breaks with one landing successfully in the safe hands of Jacob not far from goal. Jacob kicked truly with a penetrating ‘torpedo’ through the big ones and the Doncaster gang erupted. It was the ideal ending to a quarter we’d had in a while.

In light of the hard work our Donnie Catters had put in so far, a number of them were surprised with a number of decisions not being awarded, especially our marks. Generally, marks are paid if the ball makes contact with a player’s hands from a kick delivered within ten or more metres. In our match today, some of these may not have been paid on a consistent basis however I made it clear that to our players that this was beyond their control and that the umpires decision was final and is very rarely overturned. Tom and I encouraged our players should make every attempt to mark the ball solidly and to prevent any chance of it bouncing off their hand or chest to be paid the mark.

We rotated a number of players for the beginning of the second half, with Nick being rested after an outstanding first half. We started off nicely with a couple of players managing to kick the ball forward to put us early into attack. Thomas was making his presence felt despite his size, as too was Lucas who played in the centre. Some missed opportunities in front of goal presented themselves on a couple of occasions, with the ball being ripped from players hands, and strong tackling bringing some of their defenders to ground. One attempt by Sean off the
ground just hit the bottom of the post and we continued to play some hard pressing football as the ball was being kicked out from their defensive area. Jordan was once again at his ferocious best with a couple of strong tackles on his direct opponent, one which eventually caught the umpire’s eyes that it deserved a free-kick. Jack Hanson made some valiant attempts to bring the ball to ground on a couple of occasions within the centre. Towards the end of the quarter, Beverley Hills were able to break free which allowed them some kicks towards goal. They were spraying a number of chances as a few of their players were intent on kicking their own goals rather looking for players who may have had the opportunity to have a closer shot at goal. This meant our defenders were able to gather some decent kicking practice, with Cruz leading the way with some nice direct kicks from his left -foot. Ari found the ball going his way as he was mastering his position within the back-zone to allow him to gather some loose possession to clear the defensive area. I’ve been very impressed with Ari’s kicking for someone who has rarely played football before this year and I’m confident it’s only going to get better as the season progresses.

The final quarter was pretty much a carbon copy of the third, with our players showing some real presence in all of the zones. Our tackling was ferocious around most parts of the ground with a couple of some holding the ball decisions going our way within our forward zone. Unfortunately, the resultant kicks went wayward from the big sticks and truly deserved to go through for goals given the amount of work we put in to get it in our forward zone in the first place.

A truly remarkable performance from our players from start to finish today. We matched our opponents on most levels today. Overall our team doesn’t have the height advantage of some of the opposing sides we’ve played this year, but their endeavour is something to treasure and a wonderful quality that’s hard to match.

Their attention and respect for each other today was in complete contrast to their training session earlier in the week. A majority of our players were very distracted, uncooperative, loud and not following directions from coaching staff on what was required of them throughout the session. Subsequently, the rest of the team players began to follow suit which resulted in a very dysfunctional and in-effective night of training with heightened tensions and anxiety impacting on the children’s’ overall behaviour. In the spirit of our Club and its values for our members which very much includes our group of players and coaches, we do expect a level of positive and co-operative behaviour to create an enjoyable learning experience for everyone to develop their skills and a respect for everyone who plays with them on their team. Understandably, I do acknowledge that training does take place at a time where the children are in a highly energised state after a long day at school and are yearning for a release of the disciplined environment that they’ve been a part for the majority of their day. Tom and I have and always will commit to ensure that the children are there for a great time as they’re entitled to have.

To all our Under 9’s Mums, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Not sure who we’re playing at the time I write this report but I hope we’re playing in the comforts of ‘home’.

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis
Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpire: Peter Tomkins Trainer/1st Aid: Gavin Dullard Oranges & Snakes: Yi Shao and Andy Qian

Home Team Coach’s Award: Jack Glenn (Doncaster) Away Team Coach’s Award: “Number 20” (Beverley Hills N)

Coach’s Awards: Best Team Player: Jack Glenn Encouragement Award: Jack Hanson Coach’s Award: Nicholas Barradeen


Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 3 Opposition: Park Orchards R Score: N/A


Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn CarpenterO’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Romah Halcrow, Jack Hanson, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Absent: Anthony Haralambopoulos

Captains for the day: Ari Ziskov

After a short ‘working week’ with the break of Anzac Day and our alternate training night marred with a traffic jam which brought Doncaster and surrounding suburbs into a harrowing gridlock, I was keen for the hit-out on Sunday to probably put our footy week back to some “normality”. Interestingly enough, I never thought that the normality would reflect some sort of ‘ground hog day’ opponent as the fixture was released earlier in the week to confirm that we would be playing our Round 1 opponents again, Park Orchards R, in Round 3 of the 2018 season. On a cool but sunny morning, our Donnie Catters would make the trip down to Domney Reserve, a quaint footy oval nestled in the vast green valleys of Park Orchards and Warrandyte. Again, we were scheduled to play as the morning dew glistened by the early sunrise. That glistening of dew was reflecting also in the eyes of some of our players and their parents or was it the glaze of that extra hour of sleep we thought we were all entitled too given we had done our apprenticeship in conquering our Sunday morning alarm clocks last season? I’m sure that the scheduling will improve as the season progresses. But let’s not forget, it is a winter sport! And Sunday is junior footy day.

With the return of our tough little defender Lucas and Jack G recovering from a foot injury, we had a team of varying abilities and unique personalities which I was confident would gel and put in a stronger effort than the one we had back on the wet and cold Sunday against the same side we met a fortnight ago.

Our captain, Ari won the toss and chose to kick to the end which had a slight breeze favouring it. However, there was little favouring with the breeze as we struggled from the opening centre throw-up to get the ball out of Park Orchard’s forward zone. Our defensive zone worked extremely hard for the first few minutes of the quarter, as Park Orchards weaved their way through our defensive lines and having large pings for goal which skyed wayward early. Soon after that, a couple of goals came as a result of some strong overhead marks in front of goal. Finn ‘Gormo’ worked tirelessly throughout the quarter having the kicking-out duties on a number of occasions with Robert receiving a number of these kickouts on the chest. The height of the Park Ochard’s forwards was a real challenge for our defensive players and a couple of quick marking intercepts had a number of our players on the back foot at times. Mark managed to feed the ball out of congestion on a number of occasions. Our centre-zoned assigned players battled hard such as Sean and Jack taking some strong marks however the intensity of Park Orchard’s centre zone made it difficult for us to break into the forward zone. Some of the old habits of not sticking on our opponents made it easier for them to break away and allow them to kick the ball into favourable spots for a scoring opportunity.

Along with the reminder to our players at the quarter time break to stick with their opponents, Tom and I addressed the importance that when we gained possession that we look for every opportunity to place it in front of our team-mates further up the ground. A number of our players were kicking long in ‘hope’ rather than ‘lowering the eyes’ to see what was ahead of them.

The second quarter began with a real tussle in the centre as a number of repeated packs formed. It was hard for either side to manage a clearance. Our centre-zoned players were disciplined throughout the opening minutes. Jack G managed to grasp the ball at times but was quickly set upon by the Park Orchards centre players. Paul managed a few clever marks overhead and performed some quick kicks up forward only to be repelled back just as quick. It became a real see-sawing affair in most parts of the ground. Most of the clearances within the quarter were won by our opponents. I took responsibility for the lack of direction and/or instruction in this play set-up as a number of our centre zoned players didn’t match up well with their Park Orchard’s opponents. It wasn’t a physique or height thing that was the mismatch. It was my short-sightedness in instructing our Doncaster centre players to standby their opponents in a throw up and to cover the drop of the football as it came to ground from a tap by the nominated ruckmen. It was crucial to limit the opportunity for their centre opponents from swooping on the football to initiate the breaks they were clearly dominating. Some of our hard work late in the quarter began to pay off. A chain of effective tackles fell our way. Firstly by our enthusiastic Thomas who brought a player half his size to the ground, then Mark dragged another of the Park Orchard’s defenders to the ground. Mark’s handball to Robert back into the centre zone, caused a Park Orchard’s opponent to land in the back of Robert who was awarded a free kick. The umpire warned the Park Orchard’s player on the mark to not creep up on the mark a number of times. Either it was the Park Orchard’s player lack of awareness or a tactic which failed to fool the umpire which led the player on the mark to be brought back a few metres closer to within our forward zone.

Knowing Robert was a decent kick of the football, I reassured him to go back and take his kick. His kick sailed long and true over the goal umpire’s head for our first major of the morning. It was a promising end to what had been a real trying quarter for all our young Catters. Jacob had slightly twisted his knee as he attempted to tackle his opponent and was recommended to
come off the ground for the duration of the third quarter. Others in defence tried valiantly to stunt the scoring of Park Orchards. Lucas had stopped a couple of forward bounces deep in the opposition’s attack and Cruz managed a number of dangerous opposition advances with a couple of strong marks and clearing the zones with his customary long left-foot kicks.

The third quarter began with a flurry of centre-zone play. Both sides played the ball on the outer wing for a while early in the term. It was a like a small session of kick to kick with both sides playing the outer boundary with a number of the forward kicks either ending out of bounce or in the wrong hands as the ball went out of play. This ‘toing-and-froing’ of the ball finally ended when a few of our players attempted to switch the play to the opposite side of the ground. It was a decent strategy by our players to do this however in some cases, our Catters weren’t able to execute the switch effectively as they could not kick the distance required from their kicks to reach any free Cat to swoop and take advantage of . On one occasion, it worked a treat, as Mark gathered the ball on the defensive side of the ground. He did this twice, once effectively and on the second occasion was strongly tackled by two Park Orchard’s players which prevented him to kick deep into the forward zone.

It was an impressive term by one of our new players, Paul. He gathered a number of quick possessions and was very clean with his ball use within the quarter He created a number of advances with some impressive down the ground delivery to a number of forward targets. Three of these advances created some opportunities of scoring however the Park Orchard’s defence were playing tight and we only managed a couple of points by the three-quarter time break. Half way through the quarter, I noticed that our tackling pressure was beginning to wear the opposition down. Some aggressive tackling was rewarded to Surena and Samuel. Thomas once again featured with some in-close checking of players and Sophia bravely hit the packs and effectively knocked the ball on out of the pack to our advantage.

The final quarter saw a more even contest between both teams. The Cats were boosted by the return of Jacob however we set-him up forward to rest the injured knee. We had lifted our game by a few notches in the last quarter with players such as Finn Dullard, Finn ‘Gormo’ and Jordan hitting the packs a lot harder and our kicks were more longer and effective. Jacob, despite having the sore knee, worked extremely hard in the last and managed to mark a beautifully weighted kick from a Doncaster team-mate mid-way through the last quarter in the forward zone. A fair fifteen to twenty metres from goal and on a slight angle, Jacob nailed our second major of the match, much to the delight of his team-mates and the loud and supportive group of Donnie Cats parents and families. It truly was a team-lifting goal from Jacob who looked really sore at the end of the first half and looked like he was not close to returning to the ground at all. We played out the rest of the quarter with heaps of confidence. So much so that our players were beginning to take some risks with the football. A number of players took on the opposition by running with the ball rather than wanting to simply dispose of it. More marks were being taken and our tackling began to have an impact. An exciting instance of play occurred right in front of the Doncaster parent group of supporters which set the cheers and excitement level to great heights late in the last quarter. A high ball delivered in to the forward zone for Park Orchards looked like a certain mark to a Park Orchards player. However, out of nowhere, Paul came across and simply plucked the ball out mid-air to take a towering mark and land on his feet much to the disbelief of his Park Orchards opponent. I had an ideal view of the mark as it happened as I was around five metres from where he took it. I was left speechless for a few seconds trying to absorb what had happened. It certainly is a
mark I won’t forget for a while.

Our Donnie Cats certainly lifted their game after half-time, with their work-rate increasing and their ball delivery becoming a bit more cohesive in the second half. Our players and their families appeared in good spirits as we left the ground.

Lets all take these high spirits and confidence into our Round 4 clash against Beverly Hills at Doncaster Reserve next Sunday.

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpire: Leo Kalcovski Trainer/1st Aid: Sally Evely Oranges & Snakes: Eva Ziskov

Home Team Coach’s Award: Paul Savopoulos (Doncaster) Away Team Coach’s Award: “Number 8” (Park Orchards R)

Coach’s Awards: Best Team Player: Jacob Kalcovski Encouragement Award: Finn Dullard Coach’s Award: Paul Savopoulos

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 2 Opposition: Warrandyte Score: N/A


Our Team for the day: Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn CarpenterO’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Romah Halcrow, Jack Hanson, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Ari Ziskov

Absent: Lucas Tomkins, Jack Glenn (injured)

Captains for the day: Robert and Sophia Bush

It was a welcoming sight for our second match of the season on two major fronts. The weather was superb and for the first time for most of us, we were able to get a little bit extra shut-eye on a Sunday morning rather than attempting to get out of the house so fast and so early without remembering whether you’d locked the door behind you.

As opposed to the Arctic conditions we faced at this venue in mid-winter last year, a warm sun and clear skies greeted us at the picturesque Warrandyte Oval for our encounter with Warrandyte.

It was great to welcome our two absent players from last week, our brother-sister combination, Robert and Sophia Bush who were our nominated co-captains for this week. On the other side of the coin we were missing our mosquito mover Lucas and our usual high possession player Mark due to his ankle coming off second best in a battle with the lounge chair leg.

Prior to the match, our assistant coach Tom and I emphasised to the team that it was crucial for our players to take their position’s on the player mark when there was a free kick awarded to the opposition. There were too many occasions in our game last week that our opposition was able to play on without any real pressure. We also were down in our tackling until late in the game so we encouraged the team to put the extra effort in being rewarded for some persistent tackling. I was quite excited as we had challenged this team in our encounter last year and I was confident that we could challenge them even further this time around.

The match started with some quick breaks from Warrandyte into their forward zone but was strongly defended by our Cats. An strong attempt at a tackle in the middle of the ground from Nicholas resulted in an awkward fall where Nick’s opponent boot struck him on the ear as they both crashed to ground. Nicholas left the field in quite a bit of pain and was replaced by Surena who began on the reserves sidelines. The event seemed to spur our players into some form of willingness to attack the ball with more purpose, with some clever ball use by Finn ‘Gormo’ who picked up the ball with real poise and sent it into the forward line on a couple of occasions. A number of our forwards were able to get their hands on the football as the ball made its way deep into the forward line. Sophia, a first gamer, showed a strong presence in some quick pack formations and managed to push the ball forward to our advantage. Our cocaptain, Robert, who was also a first gamer, demonstrated some real evasiveness and agility as he was able to set up a few clearances from within the centre zone. Warrandyte managed to get a couple of early goals but they didn’t come too easy as our defence stood up to many of their advances. The opposition managed to make to sneak around some gaps but our defenders made some real efforts to plug these gaps as the quarter came to a close.

I asked the team the make a stronger effort at the quarter time break to stick by their opponents in particular those who were set-up in the back line. They complied but only for a few minutes as their Warrandyte opponents began to run free of them mid way through the second quarter. Warrandyte missed a number of shots and our Cats valiantly tried to press the ball out of the defensive zone from the kick outs for what seemed like an eternity. Admittedly, the ball being kicked over the fence and having to retrieve it from the vast vegetation of the Warrandyte surrounds didn’t make it any more pleasant for us. Once the ball was worked out of Warrandyte’s forward zone, the game for the rest of the second quarter was played in the majority of our forward half. This was nicely set-up with some strong attacking running and bouncing from Nicholas and Robert. Thomas battled hard in packs in the forward zone, and Paul took a couple of courageous marks when running in the opposite direction. Sophia continued her hard work as per the previous quarter. We tried valiantly to get deep into our forward zone only to be left wondering as the siren rang for half time.

Our Catters came back to the half-time huddle pretty spent as the weather seemed to be getting warmer. It felt like we were playing in the middle of February. Even I, who was only striding casually around the ground, felt the ambient heat pretty uncomfortable. Our young Catters made a beeline for the drinks rack and orange quarters to hydrate like a parched group of travellers who have been trekking the Sahara Desert for a week. I couldn’t blame them.

Despite the warm conditions, our players appeared pretty buoyant as they knew they came pretty close to scoring in the second quarter. Our assistant coach Tom set up a centre zone for the third quarter of some of our shorter players and it seemed to have worked a treat. We managed to get the ball into our forward zone and it stayed there for a majority of the quarter.

A number of our players who were quiet in the first half started to get their hands on it. Ari managed to settle and get a few kicks, Mark bustled a couple of packs and got a few touches. Jacob began to take a few of his telling marks and Surena, although had a few touches in the first half, really concentrated on making his presence felt. One player that did stand out this quarter was Cruz. He seemed to have the ball on a string in the forward zone. There was a passage of play where I think he had two or three Warrandyte opponents chasing him constantly. He confidently shrugged off a few tackles and his threatening left-foot kicks
seemed to be skying towards goal a number of times but unfortunately falling short. His workrate within the quarter paid off, where he was able to pick up the ball from a nice Jacob tap on from a stoppage and steady on to his left foot to kick a team-boosting goal. It was a delight to see the smiles on our hard working Cats after the goal had been kicked. It really boosted our energy for the rest of the quarter. Our tackling efforts heightened with some really strong chasing and running down being rewarded. Jordan brought a couple of players to ground with his python-like hold, Thomas kept annoying his opponents, Jack Hanson had a hand in some forward advances deep into the forward line when we were looking dangerous. A number of our players were also beginning to set up some nice passages of play. Sean managed a few marks and played on with confidence. Samuel worked hard also. The remarkable quarter by the Donnie Cats was only tarnished by a late goal by Warrandyte which they only managed through a unlucky spill (for us) from a pack which fell at the feet of an opposition player who was able to run through a gap within a wall of players.

After feasting on snakes and water at three-quarter time for the vital energy boost, our players continued to work hard in the last quarter. However, both teams were beginning to feel the pinch of the warm conditions. More packs formed, a number of players went to ground easier than earlier in the match. Our Catters defied a number of goal advances by Warrandyte with the tackling strength of the third quarter continuing. Surena’s outstanding form of the second half continued as he valiantly took a number of marks and kicked the ball long. I began to see a better rate of clearances from our players from ball-up situations which has not been one of the strengths of our games, particularly last season. This means that they are slowly developing their senses of being able to read the play and where to position themselves on the field to gain an advantage. This can be instructed but it becomes more intuitive as their knowledge of the game grows and can only get better through experience.

All in all, a good day of football from our young Catters. Even though we may have been less fortunate in the scoring stakes in Sunday’s match, I’m happy that they’re taking away something from every match they and I am forever enjoying the challenge of sharing and learning that with them.

On a side note, I’d like to thank Violet and the rest of the team for coming together and helping host Doncaster Junior Football Club’s Schramms on Sunday dinner last Sunday. It was a great night had by all and I’d like to thank everyone who assisted with the preparation of salads, dinner serving and wonderful donations of prizes for the raffle. I’d encourage all Under 9 families to come down to a Sunday night at Schramms during the year for a night of food, fun and a time where all our player families can get together in a relaxed atmosphere rather than the nervousness of the boundary line.

See you all next Sunday when we take on Park Orchards at Domeney Reserve

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn Goal Umpire: Corey Bakes Trainer/1st Aid: Gavin Dullard Oranges & Snakes: Geoff and Margarita Bush

Home Team Coach’s Award: Sophia Bush (Doncaster) Away Team Coach’s Award: Owen Graham (Warrandyte)

Coach’s Awards: Best Team Player: Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman Encouragement Award: Thomas Raffoul Coach’s Award: Surena Athari

Coaches Report – Under 9’s

Round 1 Opposition:  Park Orchards R Score:  N/A



Our Team for the day:

Surena Athari, Sean Bakes, Nicholas Barradeen, Finn Carpenter-O’Gorman, Finn Dullard, Jack Glenn, Romah Halcrow, Jack Hanson, Anthony Haralambopoulos, Jacob Kalcovski, Jordan Katsonis, Samuel Klancic, Mark Nicola, Cruz Qian, Thomas Raffoul, Paul Savopoulos, Lucas Tomkins, Ari Ziskov

Absent: Robert Bush, Sophia Bush

Captain for the day: Sean Bakes

Out of the 13 listed players from the Under 8’s of 2017, 11 players returned to play for the Under 9’s in 2018. Sadly, due to only a small number of registrations in 2018, there would be no Under 8’s list to represent the Doncaster Junior Football Club this year. On the plus side, those who did register for the Under 8s were automatically placed onto the Under 9’s list. In all, this resulted in a total of nine new players which is an enviable amount of additional players not many teams in any club are able to boast about.

This is a tremendous boost for our team given the difficulty to retain or recruit new players each year with the choice of sports our young children can participate in outside of school and the amount of junior football clubs which surround the Doncaster/Templestowe area.

It was great to see the familiar faces back on the training track in early March and the excitement of the new recruits would bring. A few of the new members had hardly touched a football before this season however I’m sure with the encouragement of our established list of players and the guidance of our coaching and training staff, their confidence will sky-rocket as the season progresses.

We welcome into our Under 9’s squad:

Sean Bakes, Robert Bush, Sophia Bush, Romah Halcrow, Jack Hanson,  Anthony Haralambopoulos, Thomas Rafoull, Paul Savopoulos, Ari Ziskov

Like last year, my level of nervousness was peaking all through Saturday night and prior to arriving at Schramms Reserve for our very first match on Sunday morning. Amongst the chaos which comes with the first match of any junior footy season, our players arrived pretty keen and happy to get into their first match, particularly our newbies. So the nerves did eventually settle.

The Under 9’s play 15 players on the field split into three grids: defence, centre and forward in a field which is vastly smaller to that of a normal oval. There are modified rules around tackling, bouncing the ball and players are strongly encouraged to dispose of the ball quickly to a fellow team-mate in order to keep the game flowing.

It was rather overcast and an unusually chilly breeze swept across the ground prior to game proceedings. Given the extended warmer weather we had been experiencing in Melbourne even as late as the past Friday, the first signs of drizzle began to soak the ground’s surface prior to the opening ball up and it would eventually get heavier as the morning progressed.

The breeze began to take on a heavy force, and the Doncaster Cats were fortunate enough to be kicking with it in the first quarter. Our assistant coach Tom and I instructed the players to take advantage of this wind and to kick the ball long to our scoring zone as the bal would carry further than usual which may provide us with the opportunity to score.

Both sides looked pretty keen to start off the season well. Both our Cats and the Park Orchards Sharks fought for the ball with true purpose and vigour, with the ball staying within the centre zone within the opening couple of minutes with each team not being able to clear it to their respective forward zone.

Strong and attacking possessions from Finn (Gormo) as well as some equally committed pack burrowing from Jack Glenn really made it difficult for their opponents to get clean possessions.

Park Orchards got the first break to their forward zone and attacked fiercely. However, our Cats stood up to the barrage of incoming football, with some great interception. This was remarkably highlighted by Nicholas who appeared to have some type of imaginary ball magnet attached to his hands. Every shot for goal or deep forward kick into the opposition’s goal area, Nick came out with the ball on numerous occasions, looking for options to kick to up the ground, stopping certain scoring opportunities. So strong and bold was Nick’s attack and presence in the back-line, that I could here parents from the opposition complimenting Nick’s efforts.

Apart from a couple of scoring shots from Park Orchards, the first term was very much an equal  affair on the field with our Cats matching the opposition in strength and possession and we also managed to scrounge our way into the forward line a couple of times but were unable to convert on the scoreboard.

I encouraged our Cats to keep up the strong and attacking football they showed in that first quarter and that opportunities would surely come. However, with the start of the second quarter came the heavier showers which sadly remained for the rest of the match. I cannot recall throughout any of our matches last year that we played in rainy conditions. For our established players, it was a new experience and for our new players it surely added to their ‘baptism of fire’ experience of playing competitive football for the first time.

Handling of the ball became difficult for both teams however our opposition somewhat adapted to the conditions better as the match progressed. Getting any type of flow within our play in the second quarter was made harder as a number of the opposition centre and forward zone players were able to get out on their own to create a spread which allowed them to have numerous scoring opportunities. Our Doncaster Cats centre players tried extremely hard throughout the term, with Nicholas again featuring in some attacking ball gains, and Jacob strongly attacking the football in centre ball ups and taking some handy pack marks. Our new players Anthony and Ari showed some true grit in defence with some repelling marks. Ari’s long kicking was good to see, clearing us out from danger a number of times. The only thing which let us down was some of our defensive zone players allowed their forward opponents to get loose at times.

The third quarter was pretty much similar to the second, with Park Orchards handling the wet conditions better than our Cats. However, I really began to empathise with a number of our players, especially our newer ones as the rain began to fall horizontally due to the high winds beginning to pick up and the comfort levels was one that simulated a fisherman on a trawler with forty foot waves approaching – cold, wet, miserable and hard to see about ten metres in front of you. There was a greater effort though from our Cats, with some strong packs forming as our tackling becoming more aggressive and a number of our players wanting to push through the grimy conditions. Some of our players were able to get free, however some were just trying to do a little too much on their own and paid the price by being tackled and brought to ground to have free kicks paid against them. It was a promising sight of perseverance and a number of players demonstrated some strong efforts in a scrappy affair in the tail-end of the third. Nicholas continued with his clever ball winning efforts and Surena showed his tenacity we have come to know so well from last season. Thomas, one of our new players, also showed that he could gather the ball, especially in a lot of pack situations with lightning speed. If he can dispose of the football as quick as he gathers it, then he will be unbeatable in whatever position he plays.

The final quarter continued to be scrappy due to the torrid conditions, however our Cats gave whatever the could to negate the Park Orchards forward advances. Surena dominated the centre zone and some impressive wet weather marking by another new player, Paul, on a couple of occasions, gave the rest of us something to look forward to in the season ahead.  Jordan, who had an unusually rusty game in the first three quarters, began to get his tackling game in motion and won a couple of frees for his efforts. Players from both sides showed some real signs of fatigue within the last and the relief on their faces when the final siren sounded was something to behold.

As one of our parents said within the half-time break, the wet and cold conditions were character building and possibly can prove to be an advantage at this early stage of the year. If last season is anything to go by, we hopefully will have dryer conditions for the majority of the season with the only climatic challenge being the odd Arctic temperature readings we may experience in July.

Perhaps a later morning start may be beneficial for us as well!

It wasn’t the most ideal start to a season for our Under 9s but I’m confident our Doncaster Cats will put this game in their football memory banks as one that they will be able to proudly say that they braved some truly inclement weather in their times as a junior footballer – and that’s what makes playing these types of matches so great in their football development and to be adapt to whatever is thrown at them in future situations.

Well done everyone, including our parents. If we can turn out and support our players every week , I have no doubt that they will repay your support with some memorable performances.

Due to a lack of numbers for our opposition, we donated a player from our team at each change. I would like to acknowledge and thank the following players who were chosen from our team who had to play for the opposition to even the numbers. These were:

Finn Dullard

Romah Halcrow

Cruz Qian

Sean Bakes

They gracefully accepted the roles as opposition players and played in the true Under 9s spirit.

See you all next Sunday.

Many thanks to all the team:

Assistant Coach: Tom Katsonis

Team Mangers: Violet Nicola/Mark Glenn

Match Umpire: Adam Nicola (with the rusty whistle)

Goal Umpire: Mahdi Athari

Trainer/1st Aid: Sally Eveley

Timekeeper: Samira Sepasi

Oranges & Snakes: Corey and Annabel Bakes
Home Team Coach’s Award: Xavier Noonan (Park Orchards R)
Away Team Coach’s Award: Surena Athari (Doncaster)