Exercise, learning life skills and friendship are what Gilbert Afful loves most about football. And not just for himself, but his children.
Afful moved to Australia from Ghana in 1996. He joined Wallsend FC as his first club before moving to Broadmeadow Magic.
It was at Magic that he joined an exclusive list of players to have won first grade, reserve grade and youth grade premierships in the top tier of northern NSW men’s football.
But now Afful enjoys his time on the sideline at Magic Park rather than playing, watching his sons Ethan and Noah wear the famous Magic red for Broadmeadow’s under-14s and under-10s teams.
In the genes
Afful’s boys had little chance but to follow their father into football given his love of the game. But it is a path that has provided father and sons plenty of joy.
“They most definitely got involved in football because of me,” Afful laughed.
“Especially my eldest. His love for the game is a bit more than his brother. The eldest started to kick the ball from two or three-years-old and you could tell he was pretty good.
“I guess being around me everything was football, football, football. They had no choice. But they love it and get so much fun and enjoyment from football. Already they’ve had some wonderful memories.”
Life skills from football
As well as the memories on the pitch, Afful’s boys have learned much off it. They have been taught many life skills through playing football that Afful hopes will hold them in good stead as they grow into young men.
“Those skills you gain from a team environment are transferrable in all avenues of life,” Afful said.
“I’m a big believer that football helps kids get out there and not sit in front of the PlayStation all day. You get exercise and friendship but you also get life skills.
“If [my sons are] lucky like me they will make a lot of lifelong friends as well. There’s so many positives in playing football for your children. Obviously exercising, being fit and healthy and learning motor skills and coordination but also I think it can help your mental health and take your mind off things.
“Most definitely the friendships [are great benefits]. My eldest for example is still friends with former teammates who have left the club. They’ve stayed connected, they’re still friends and catch up outside football. Even some opponents they are friends with through school.”
All about respect
Perhaps the most important life skills to be learned from football is respect, according to Afful.
“Respect is a big one. You have to follow the laws of the game, follow instructions from referees, coaches, people in authority,” Afful said.
“You have to learn discipline. Train hard, work hard, develop that work ethic.
“And sometimes you have to be a leader. But also sometimes you have to be a good teammate and work as part of a team.”
Registration information for parents
Want to sign up your child for football in 2022? Register HERE
Having trouble? Parents can contact the PlayFootball team directly if they are having issues with registering by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 02 8880 7983.
The support team will be available from 9am until 9pm throughout January and February, with the potential for the extended service to continue into March.
While registrations for some community clubs will open from the first week of January, NNSWF’s annual official date for open registrations is 1 February. Contact your club for more information.