Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla siblings win A-league prize

Siblings Jade and Cooper James travelled to Melbourne last month to spent time with A League soccer players.

TONI BRIENT May 7, 2014 3:13am

Soccer stars: Siblings Jade James, 9 and Cooper James, 7, won a competition to watch an A League soccer game between Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney Wanderers.

The oval at Benalla P-12 College doesn’t look anything like Melbourne’s AAMI Stadium, and nobody knows that better than the James family.

Siblings Jade James, nine, and Cooper James, seven, made the trip to Melbourne on April 12 after winning a competition to spend time with A League soccer players during a Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney Wanderers game.

The James siblings joined 21 others from Benalla and Ballarat who took to the field and watched the match up close.

The lucky youngsters were all participants in the Federal Government’s Active After-school Communities program, which operates across the nation to provide primary school children with access to free sport and other structured physical activity programs.

Jade said the experience was one she’d remember — especially meeting recently-retired Melbourne Heart player Harry Kewell.

‘‘It felt very exciting but I was very nervous because there were heaps of people around,’’ the Year 4 student said.

‘‘The most exciting part was probably when they started to kick goals.’’

To win the competition, entrants had to correctly answer some trivia questions about Melbourne Heart, which mum Donna admitted were quite difficult.

‘‘We had to get on the internet to find some of the answers,’’ she said.

Jade and Cooper participate in soccer, circus and lawn bowls programs each week as part of the AASC program.

The program’s regional co-ordinator Tony Pasquali said the A League competition which sent the James siblings to Melbourne was a ‘‘fantastic way’’ to promote football and local clubs to AASC participants.

‘‘The excitement of playing on AAMI Park with their friends is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these kids,’’ Mr Pasquali said.

‘‘It has helped build a lifelong bond not only with each other but with the wonderful sport of football.’’

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