THERE were smiles all round at the Sunshine Coast Stadium yesterday morning as the Falcons' newest team took to the field.
More than 30 children aged five to 16 completed their first training session for the Falcons Footy Rugby League for Children of Different Abilities season.
Team co-ordinator Nadine Hoffman said this would be the first time many of the children, who are on the autism spectrum, had an opportunity to play a team sport.
Not only were they able to train with some of the Falcon greats, they were also kitted out for the season with team shirts and a sports pack each after Maroochy RSL came on board with sponsorship.
Returning player Jade Scott was ecstatic to return to the locker room after a training session to find a personalised locker and a bag full of equipment that would see her through the season.
The off-season seemed to take way too long for Jade, who jumped back into training with gusto yesterday.
Former Australian rugby league great turned Falcons Footy Ambassador, Kerrod Walters, said the team had more than doubled its players since last year.
"We are teaching the kids some basic skills in a fun way with the aim to build them up to having a game later in the season," Mr Walters said.
"They really feel like a team with their shirts on this year and its all about getting them to feel more confident," he said.
The team will head to Brisbane on April 24 to watch the Broncos train for their clash with the Parramatta Eels the following day.
"They will get to meet the players and get some photos and autographs too," Mr Walters said.
Falcons Footy coach Jack Dreger said young players returning from last year were more than happy to demonstrate the drills to the newcomers, and everyone had a great morning.
"We taught them some footwork skills, how to tackle the bags and also how to hit the pads we were holding and we would fall over, which they thought was great," Mr Dreger said.
"One of the highlights was seeing a young boy stick his leg out behind him like he was a bull about to charge at us, he absolutely loved it.
"It has been a really good learning curve for us as well."
Positions on the team are still available.
Courtesy of Roxanne McCarty-OKane of Sunshine Coast Daily