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Alive and kicking!

How a team of northsiders have tackled the issue of staying on the ball over 60

Article first appeared in northsider magazine Autumn 2020. All pics taken pre-covid/social distancing.

Mates Brian, 70, left, and Eric, 80, are kicking goals when it comes to the beautiful game

Right: Some of the Alive n’ Kicking soccer squad

When it came to keeping active over 60, locals Eric Anderson and Brian Moran were determined not to sit on the sidelines.

“Fifteen months ago Brian and I were having a coffee and mulling over the fact that we wanted to keep playing soccer, a game we’d both loved since childhood,” Eric, 80, explains. “We were still active enough to keep playing, just not competitively.”

As the two discussed their passion for the sport, they knew they had to do something to keep playing the beautiful game.

“I said we were alive and kicking and that’s where the idea came from. Why don’t we start our own game and call it Alive ‘n’ Kicking?” former semi-pro soccer player Eric continues.

Instead of hanging up their boots, the pair sent an email to a group of players and former players, all over the age of 60, to see if they’d be keen to take part too. Within a week, 35 prospective teammates had expressed interest in kicking off the new matches.

“We wanted to keep playing the game we’d loved since childhood.”

A simple set of rules was devised, playing either half-pitch, or full pitch with small goals, over 60 mins with two breaks. To prevent body contact there was to be no tackling from behind or from the side.

In May 2018, the first game kicked off at Northbridge Oval, courtesy of Willoughby Council. Soon, the list of players grew to 55 and the group has played every week since. Around 20 players with an average age of 67 train regularly every Thursday with octogenarian Eric proud to be the team’s eldest player.

Last year, Eric and Brian entered a team in the Australian Masters Games in Adelaide. Although they didn’t bring home the silverware on that occasion, it gave everyone a taste for competition. In 2020, they will enter two teams in the Emin Rufati Charity tournament run by St. Ives Football Club and in November, a team will head to the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast.

In 2021, they will compete in the World Masters Games in Japan in the Over 60s category.

“The spirit and friendship, the humour and banter and the opportunity for senior players who’ve still ‘got it’ to express their ability to relive their earlier talents, that’s what it’s all about,” Eric says. “Having a kick around and having a laugh together.”

Future plans include establishing Sydney district teams and holding competitions.

A women’s team has also been mooted. “The idea could extend interstate too,” Eric enthuses. “Or even overseas. We’ve already had interest from France so who knows. Today the North Shore, tomorrow the world!”

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