Westside Strikers junior soccer program continues to thrive.

Based in the growing Caroline Springs area, the number of players interested in playing for the club has increased every year.

On Sunday, the club launched the junior year with a gala day, with children from all teams in attendance for their first hit-out of the season.

Strikers president Sam Raniolo said they would have 26 junior teams this season, with the children itching to get out onto the park.

“It’s great to see so many kids laughing and having a kick,” he said. “It brings back what it’s about.”

Raniolo said the Strikers had turned away 100 children because they did not have the ground space. He said they were hopeful they would be able to expand their junior program next season.

“We want to get as many players as possible,” he said. “We’ve got teams from under-seven through to under-16s. We’ve got five girls teams, up from four last season.”

Raniolo said the club was starting to see success in the junior program flowing through to the rest of the club.

This year the Strikers will launch a senior men’s teams. They will field a side in the FFV state league 5 west and will have a reserves side as well. The teams start their season on Saturday against Kensington City.

Raniolo said early signs had been positive and the club was hopeful of a good season.

“Half of our reserves side are 18-year-olds and some have come through from the under-16s,” he said. “We’ve had five practice matches and won four games. They’re starting to gel together.

“Our senior side has done well as well. We’ve played five practice matches and won five. We’re looking forward to the weekend.”

Raniolo said a women’s team would be on the cards in the next couple of years to further complement the junior program.

“We didn’t have the numbers for a women’s side this year,” he said.

“We’ve got an under-16 team and we want to build up that and look at a women’s side again next year.”

 

Tara Murray