Shire Matters with Mark Speakman: Shire kids kick off the 2021 season

One of my earliest recollections of childhood sport was my first match with the Redbacks - a bruising 8-0 defeat in under-8s soccer (now "football"). After seven seasons with the Redbacks, I joined the Rangers - a club that, like my own football career, is now defunct.

With the perspective of adulthood, winning and losing should be relatively insignificant in children's sport. I also remember building friendships, learning to recognise the importance of teamwork and enjoying the energy and excitement of match play (regardless of how one-sided those matches may have been). A love of sport is a great foundation for a healthy, active and happy life.

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted children's sport for much of 2020, but we can be optimistic that this year's season can operate in normal conditions, with more attendees and a full schedule. Last weekend, I was at North Caringbah Oval - home of the Redbacks - for round 1 of the football season. It's terrific to experience, once again, the positive community vibe that weekend sport brings to our local fields, with families supporting their athletes and committed volunteers working in overdrive to make these competitions possible.

The Sutherland Shire Football Association is the largest football association of any code in Australia, with around 19,000 players. Similarly, the Shire has the biggest Netball Association in NSW. Needless to say, Shire residents of all ages love their team sport.

If you're a parent with a school-age child, remember that you can access the NSW Government's Active Kids program. Active Kids entitles you to two $100 vouchers to use towards sport and active recreation costs each year. You can access these through the Service NSW app.

Voucher 1 is valid January to December and Voucher 2 is valid July to December.

2021 is set to be a much better, fuller year for kids' sport. And no matter what the score line, that's a win we can all enjoy.