It's mine . . . Weston School player Lochie Wrenn (11) chases down the ball against St Joseph's School players at the Waitaki Football Festival at Awamoa Park last Thursday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

An idea Football Waitaki sat on for a number of years has been hailed a success by its organisers.

The organisation hosted the first Waitaki Football Festival at Awamoa Park last week, attended by 220 primary school children.

The 31 teams were split into age groups – year 3 and 4, year 5 and 6, and year 7 and 8. The day was designed to benefit both those who were experienced and new to the game.

Football Waitaki president Twyla Kingan was thrilled with the turn out and hoped the festival would help widen the scope of football in the district.

“It’s all about participation, and encouraging the kids to be active, and enjoying the sport, and being on a team,” Kingan said.

“There’s been a great response, everyone’s enjoying it – the kids were counting down to when their games were kicking off.”

The idea had been in the “pipeline” for a while, after witnessing other sports in the district have their own festivals.

“It’s such a positive day. All the kids love it, the coaches, the parents, so we thought ‘why not football?’.”

Some Football Waitaki clubs had pushed back their registration days to coincide with the festival.

It was hoped the festival might “plant the seed” and encourage more players to give football a go, Kingan said.

Secondary school pupils volunteered to referee the games. It gave them leadership opportunities, and also helped primary school pupils witness how they could progress through the football ranks.

“For the younger kids to say ‘hey, I could actually still be playing in high school, so why not start now?’.”

Kingan heaped praise on the referees and Football Waitaki and Football South committees for helping put the festival together.

Football Waitaki’s winter season starts on May 8.