Response to U16 Premiership

The Hampton Rovers Football Club has received plenty of media attention and positive feedback from far and wide resulting from the U16 Division 1 Premiership.

Rather than selecting the best 22, coach Ash Roberts decided to play all 30 players on Grand Final day and ensure all got adequate time on the ground (junior footy rules allow for this in Grand Final’s). The Rovers finished the home and away season on top of the ladder with 11 wins and 4 losses. Down with seconds remaining, Oscar Roberts took a screamer and kicked truly after the siren to win the game by five points. Read more and watch the video here >

Following a feature article in the local paper, an article appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun on September 20th. As a result, the club received plenty of positive feedback from people not involved in the club. Emails, comments on the HS website, letters to the HS and even comments passed onto us by the VAFA from other VAFA clubs.

We wanted to share some of the feedback received.

Yesterday I read the article ‘Team Spirit Pays Off In Thriller Grand Final’ in the Sunday Herald-Sun.  In fact I’ve read it 3 times because it is one of the most uplifting football articles I’ve ever read.

A primary teacher for many decades, I coached school football teams for 30 years.  I very much believed in giving all players a go, even though many more games would have been won by limiting the 18 on the field to the best players.  I wish to congratulate Under 16 coach Ash Roberts for taking a similar stance in such an important game as a grand final and although I have no connection with your club, I am absolutely delighted that the U/16s won the premiership.  All players will be thrilled but about 8 young men will be able to rejoice – for the rest of their lives – in knowing that they contributed to a flag ON THE DAY, rather than just ‘during the year’ which I am sure would be the case in most clubs.

When getting on the website to find where to direct this email, I noticed that your club received an award for the Best Conducted Club. In light of the above, the award is hardly surprising – obviously a very strong culture of positive values exists.  Congratulations and thank you for providing me with a reminder that good things still happen in under age football when so much adult misbehaviour at junior football match seems to be reported during the season.

Good luck with your teams in 2016.


I have been alerted in media snippets to a Grand Final Game played by your Club’s Under 16s Team last weekend. I wish to congratulate your Club for the outstanding way you chose to play this Game – in a spirit of Team that is quite sadly missing in what appears to be  a ‘modern’  junior footy climate of ‘win at all costs.’ It seems you have chosen to play this Game in a wholesome and inclusive spirit wherein all Team members were encouraged to (literally) contribute. I cannot commend you highly enough for this. The fact that some media outlets have chosen to communicate your Style has meant that your superior approach can be recognised.

For the Message you have been able to send to Junior Footy leagues, clubs, teams , players and parents everywhere, I thank you.

For what you have offered young players in the Under 16s Team, I applaud you. Your very fortunate young players (and hopefully their families) experienced a highly valuable life lesson in being part of your Team. An experience that will hopefully remain with them, in future diverse walks of life, in far more meaningful ways than ‘winning at all costs’ could ever have done. For this I congratulate you!


LETTER IN HERALD SUN – ‘True Teamwork’:
What a breath of fresh air from Hampton Rovers under-16s footy coach Ash Roberts that he gave all 30 available players at least a quarter each in the team’s grand final (“Team spirit pays off in thriller grand final”, SHS, Sep 20). An amazing contrast to the constant win-at-all-costs attitude of virtually every junior footy coach.

That Roberts put participation of all players above premiership aspirations is amazingly refreshing and there is a lesson in it for all who coach junior sport.

No matter if the team had lost, Roberts would have been a winner in every fair-minded person’s eyes.

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