A group of seven year-olds who call themselves the Benfica Rockets, gathered at a residence in Lane Cove along with their support staff to watch the Socceroos in that crucial must-win FIFA World Cup qualifier in mid-November. The Rockets are a popular football team representing Lane Cove Football Club with great enthusiasm and panache in the local U8s competition.
The Rockets have played together for three years; starting their careers in the U6s. It has been three years of tears, laughter, laces coming undone, wins, losses that have felt like wins and post-game treats. The support staff around them aka parents and grandparents, have formed friendships that will stand the test of time and embody the true spirit of what a community like Lane Cove is all about. It is also testament to the very important role team sports play in a community.
For the Socceroos and especially coach Ange, the 3-1 defeat of Honduras was the culmination of a long and arduous journey taking 22 games to qualify over two-and-a-half years despite only losing twice, which says something about how difficult it is to qualify for the best sporting competition in the world.
The match itself had everything. The nerves were jangling after an agonising first half where the Socceroos didn’t seem to be going anywhere despite having a lion’s share of the ball. When the second half got underway however, the game came alive with a very direct approach to goal resulting in a free kick smashed into the back of the net by Australian captain Jedinak. This really got the party started and two penalty kicks later, Jedi had a hat-trick and we are well and truly on the plane to Russia. The Rockets were in fine voice prompting a neighbour or two to pop over and join in the action!
Huge thanks to Lara, Jen, Lucy, Sean, Joey and Em from SBS for putting on a great night.