TIME OF OPPORTUNITY: With the Brisbane Lions building a new facility at Springfield, the future holds exciting possibilities for these youngsters from the Ipswich Cats.
TIME OF OPPORTUNITY: With the Brisbane Lions building a new facility at Springfield, the future holds exciting possibilities for these youngsters from the Ipswich Cats.

Cats’ AFL nursery seeks next batch

AUSSIE RULES: The Ipswich Cats Aussie rules club has produced three talents to progress to the AFL and it is looking for the next generation of recruits.

With the Springfield AFL stadium going ahead, prospects could not be better for the region's young footballers. In the past the Cats have moulded the likes of Fremantle's Matthew Uebergang and ex-Brisbane Lion Rhan Hooper. In a reflection of the trend across all major sporting codes, the latest to roll off the factory line is AFLW Brisbane Lions talent Dakota Davidson.

The club caters to all ages from under-6 with the superstars and under-8 modified rules right up to masters. The Cats are hoping to offer as many teams as possible across the junior divisions this year. Boys and girls play together until 11. As well as boys' teams in all age groups, they are targeting under-13 and 15 girls' sides.

To do so, they need the next generation of AFL stars to get their foundations in Australia's game at the Ipswich Cats. Experienced bodies too are needed, with high hopes of bolstering the seniors and masters' ranks.

Club president Kevin Sherry said the Cats were looking for players of all ages to join the family-focused community-minded club.

He said the future was bright for AFL in Ipswich and the Cats were looking forward to blossoming after consolidating over the last two years.

"We're going strong," he said.

"Now we're looking for new fruit and opportunity.

"Last year we had 165 members and we want to reach 200 this year."

Sherry said there was a strong history of community support in this town and the Cats appreciated the backing of local businesses like major sponsors Rent My Property Booval and Mi Hi Tavern.

He said the club held strong links with RAAF Amberley and fostered a culture which encouraged a deep respect for the community and the businesses which made its running possible.

"Our players get to understand they are playing for a club and representing an area but it takes a combined effort," he said.

"The business community helps them get on the field.

"It is not just through the efforts of parents and coaches, it is because the Ipswich community cares about kids being active. We play for friendship within the local area. The joy of local AFL is we are a co-operative and that helps promote a great sense of community."

The Cats take part in the Community Shield competition and offer a development pathway from juniors right through to the highest level. Teams begin trials later this month, with Michael McLaughlin taking on the role of senior coach.

Coaches are required to acquire the appropriate qualifications, ensuring players are taught to play safely and with proper technique.

A restructuring of the AFLQ means junior football will be more enjoyable than ever, with less travel, noscoreboards for under-8s and superstars and greater emphasis on kids participating and having fun.

"The game requires a lot of decision making," Sherry said when asked to describe its beauty.

"It is free-flowing with lots of scoring opportunities, so there are spectacle aspects but there is also always something to acknowledge within the teamwork and disciplines."

Sherry encouraged anyone interested to head along to sign-on on March 1 from 10am-3pm at Ivor Marsden at One Mile.

There will be a free sausage sizzle, drinks, jumping castle and the chance to have a kick. Sign-on can be performed online via the Ipswich Cats' website.

Season registration costs are $50 for under-6, $230 for under10-16 and $300 for seniors. Plus costs for shorts and socks.

The NAB Aus Kick program for kids aged 5-12 begins on March 4 from 5-6pm. Masters kick-off in early April. Youth footy ages 12-17 is typically played on Sundays.

Other Cats' sponsors include Fig Jam, Scenic Rim Trophies, Colliers International (Brassall Shopping Centre) and Clift Pearce Accounting.