Touch footy, a family sport

Alex Ford

THE Sale and District Touch Football Association’s been running for 25 years — in that time, coordinator Laurie Smyth has noticed a lot of young people joining in.

The league began with oil workers and RAAF Base personnel looking to let off some steam, playing a foreign sport named touch football, which is popular in distant lands like New South Wales and Queensland. The sport is similar to rugby league, but without tackling

What’s interesting is that many of these original players, upon settling in Sale, raised their children to play as well.

Now, it’s common for mothers and fathers to be playing with their children on the same team — or against them.

This is a rare thing, according to dad David Ropeti, who has three of his children playing — one with him, on Porky’s Pines, one in the Sale College squad, and one in the Piglets — often for bragging rights.

“It’s a good feeling, it’s a good family environment, and to have your kids play with you — there’s not many sports where you can have mum, dad, kids, all playing tennis in one team or against each other,” he said.

“Everyone’s on a level playing field, especially for the kids who can outrun (the adults).”

His son Kyan, on the Sale College team, said it was definitely interesting to play against his dad.

Arabel Williams, a rookie on the Gippsland Grammar side, said her dad, Whare, showed no special treatment.

“Dad doesn’t stop yelling at us, he brings us in and swaps us out when I’m in the best position,” she said, grinning — her coach, Coran Grewar, also plays with her daughter Harper, while in the Nagle College team, there’s three sets of siblings.

Another parent, Jason Green, has two of his children playing in the CAT’s team.

“I think I’m running really fast but someone always comes up and tags me,” he laughed, adding it was his daughter’s first season.

“(My son) Theo’s been playing for 10 years, I’ve been playing for maybe 15 years.”

Smyth, the long-time coordinator, said it was a “credit to the families, and the sport”.

“I’ve seen the young ones come through, and it speaks well of the competition,” he said.

“It’s more of a social competition than a fierce competition —- if anyone comes in, I put new recruits into teams that need players, to try and make the competition even.”

Anyone interested in getting involved is invited to head to Stephenson Park in Sale from 6.30pm on a Wednesday to check out the competition.