Friday 11 May 2012

What does it take to become a sporting hero?

What does it take to become a sporting hero?
By Christine Stanschus – CEO Little Kickers, based in Toronto, Canada

My husband, Frank, and I were fortunate to be able to attend a fundraising event in Toronto last week, which was organized by the CAN Fund – Canadian Athletes Now.  I have to admit that until I went along to the event, I had little understanding about the lives of athletes who are preparing for the Olympics, and their motivations.

We had the opportunity to see presentations by, and to meet, a number of ex-Olympic medal winners and to hear their stories around their participation in sport.

I had always assumed that athletes who achieve Olympic performance levels are probably born as naturally superior physical beings to the rest of us, and that whilst a certain amount of effort is bound to be involved, they are ultimately “made that way”.  It’s possible for the chosen few to become Olympians, but not for most “ordinary” people.  I assumed it would be obvious from the first time these talented athletes picked up a hockey stick / kicked a football etc, that their gift would shine through and they would be earmarked as a future Olympian and would be set onto a training conveyor belt which would propel them effortlessly to the Olympic Games. 

Whilst many of the athletes who spoke at the event described the buzz they got from competing in their chosen sport right from day one, I was amazed at the way they described their ongoing involvement.   The effort involved in forcing themselves to train when they really didn’t feel like it, the physical discomfort which often bordered on pain, the “down” moments, when they felt they were underachieving.  There were, however, certain characteristics the athletes shared, and messages which were repeated over and over again throughout the presentations and conversations.  The first being the overwhelming sense of pride they feel in representing their country.  Also, the respect and admiration they felt for their teammates and their determination to do their best for “the team”, the dedication and hours of training required in order to achieve their dreams….  Many of them had stories of injuries, which should have resulted in an end to their Olympic careers – serious joint injuries, serious accidents incurred while training etc.  They all managed to overcome these, and to go on to achieve greatness.

The other thing they all had in common was the huge support they had received from their families.  From instilling an early passion for their sport and a drive to do their best, to more mundane things like getting up early to drive them to practice and being a constant source of encouragement when the going got tough.  They were unanimous in their views that without the support of their family they would never have achieved their Olympic goals. 

So whilst physical attributes obviously contribute to the make-up of great athletes, the support of a strong family is equally as important.   So the next time your Little Kicker wakes you up at 7am on a Saturday morning, asking you to take them to football class, remember that all 11 spaces on the 2024 Olympic football squad have yet to be filled…!

Thursday 10 May 2012

Little Kickers Founders visit Down Under

Little Kickers founder, CEO Christine Stanschus and her husband Frank, visited Australia from their home in Canada recently to say hello to our franchisees and talk about the exciting times ahead for Little Kickers.

They came via the UK where they celebrated 10 years of Little Kickers and took part in the annual franchisee conference.

It was their first time Down Under and with the Little Kickers Australia team growing rapidly, there was plenty of meeting and greeting to be done - Aussie style!

First stop on the East Coast was Sydney. Chris and Frank spent some time catching up with NSW master franchisee Dan Kelland and his wife Sharon. Our guests brought the wet weather with them from the Northern Hemisphere.... or maybe it was Yvette and Michael Summers-Gervai, the New Zealand master franchisees who also flew in for the conference.

Lenny was EXTREMELY pleased to see the Stanschus' - just a few days earlier he went to the airport to 'surprise' our visitors... but the surprise was on him as Chris and Frank unknowingly exited through another gate, leaving Lenny to entertain other passengers from a tour group who were fascinated by our furry friend!

Their next stop was sunny Brisbane where Christine and Frank spent some time with Queensland and South Australia master franchisee Karen Tannoch-Bland and her husband Colby.

Whilst in each of the states, Christine and Frank met up with Qld and NSW franchisees to get some feedback on how the brand has been developing in their states. It was also a great chance for franchisees to socialise together as a group.

“It was fantastic to meet the fun, dynamic group of people who are setting the standard for pre-school sport in the Aussie market. The Little Kickers overseas business only really kicked off a couple of years ago but has now grown to represent a staggering 35% of the company's overall business - which is testament to the hard work and passion of the talented group of overseas franchisees we now have in place,” Christine said.

While they were here, Christine and Frank also updated us on what’s been happening with Little Kickers globally. The UK has just launched Little Rugby and little Dance Flavourz through our overseas franchise network.

Little Rugby is a sports program for 2 to 5-year-olds, similar to Little Kickers, and Little Dance Flavourz is an eclectic dance programme for 2-5 year old girls and boys looking for a fun and energetic introduction to dance. To find out more, visit and

Thursday 19 April 2012

Little Kickers at National Playgroup Week

Playgroup Queensland’s National Playgroup Week was packed with fun events for kids again this year and Little Kickers was at the heart of the celebrations. 

The major Queensland event, the Hyundai Playgroup Children’s Festival, was on 29 March at RNA Showgrounds where about 2,000 people from playgroups all over South East Queensland joined in the fun and games. 

Girls and boys from 15 months of age were kicking goals with us, some who had just taken their first steps! Our Coach Chris can help any child kick their first goal and it was Little Kickers on the road, with all our usual favourite games and fun soccer activities. 

Kids loved the chance to play with us and walk away with a sticker, hand stamp and balloon, as well as a snapshot of the types of people who run Little Kickers classes. Most of the coaches who came along were franchisee owner-operators who put 110 percent of their heart and soul into the event.

Playgroup Queensland does an incredible job of organising National Playgroup Week, which coincides with Families Week each year. 

Little Kickers was also invited to join in a second event at Capalaba Regional Park on 27 March. About 400 people from the Bayside area joined in the Capalaba fun where Little Kickers organised soccer games and a playful obstacle course. Other activities included a baby animal farm, face painting, giveaways, messy play and fire trucks.

National Playgroup Week was a major success across Queensland, with over 6,500 families participating in 36 events. Thanks to Playgroup Queensland for involving us in such fantastic events and we can’t wait to join in again next year!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Meet a Little Kicker - Lachlyn

We were lucky enough to interview Lachlyn on Saturday at his Little Kickers Gold Coast class.  Here is what Lachlyn,  aged 4 had to say about Little Kickers. 

Venues of Little Kickers attended:   Pacific Pines
How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 1 year now   
What is your favourite little Kickers game? Catching the coach
What do you like best about little kickers?  Kicking Goals!
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A mechanic & Buzz Lightyear!
What’s your favourite healthy food? Bananas, Strawberries & Yoghurt
Who is your favourite coach?  Coach Brad
What do you love? Lightning McQueen & riding my bike
Your Mum and/or Dad’s perspective on Little Kickers....
We love Little Kickers and the skills they learn and think it’s important for Lachlyn to be part of ‘A team’.  He loves the big boy soccer outfit and wants to keep his ’real’ uniform on all day!

Monday 19 September 2011

Meet a Little Kicker - Beau

On Sunday we had the pleasure of interviewing Beau who attends our Gold Coast Burleigh Sunday Junior Kickers Class.  Here is what Beau (and his Dad) had to say!

Age: 3
Venues of Little Kickers attended?
Burleigh, Gold Coast
How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 
12 weeks
What is your favourite little Kickers game?
“Kicking the ball into the net”
What do you like best about little kickers?
“Kicking the ball into the net”  (same answer J)
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What’s your favourite healthy food?
Who is your favourite coach? 
“Coach Brad” & “Coach Corey”
What do you love?
“Poppy” & “Smoothies”
Your Mum and/or Dad’s perspective on Little Kickers -
Structured learning in a fun environment – Leaning physical coordination (soccer skills, etc), Practising mental alertness (listening skills, taking instructions and carrying these out properly, concentration skills, etc).
……and most importantly Beau loves it.

Friday 9 September 2011

Meet one of our Little Kickers - Harry

Abbey at Little Kickers Gold Coast had the pleasure of interviewing Harry at Little Kickers Southport. Here is what Harry had to say about his favourite weeks activity.

Name -

Age -

Venues of Little Kickers you attend on the Gold Coast -

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers?
2 months

What is your favourite Little Kickers game?
Donkey kick 'E-OR'!

What do you like best about Little Kickers?
Scoring goals and playing soccer with my friends

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A racing car driver

What’s your favourite healthy food?
Chicken pasta

Who is your favourite coach?
Coach Colin

What do you love?
Lightening McQueen and the Cars movie

Your Mum and/or Dad's perspective on Little Kickers -
Little Kickers is a great way for young children to learn some early ball skills, to get some healthy exercise and most of all, to have fun! All the kids love it!

Friday 4 February 2011

Welcome to the Chinese New Year 2011

Well we are already into our second month of 2011, how time flies when you are having lots of fun. We have now entered the year of the Rabbit, which according to the Chinese Zodiac is the luckiest year and I am hopeful that it will yield some sporting luck!

We have just lost out on the Asian cup and Tandanari Lee is now a name that will evoke painful memories for Socceroos fans, just as the name Tim Cahill will forever do the same to a generation of their Japanese equivalents. It is all the more difficult for Australia fans to take because of the gilt-edged chances missed mainly by Harry Kewell, with form player Matt McKay also spurning a glorious opportunity to open the scoring inside the opening ten minutes.

On the day, the better team perhaps lost but that doesn't mean Japan are the undeserving champions.

The Socceroos will also have done their reputation on the continent no harm with the manner in which they have conducted themselves both on and off the pitch, a start contrast to the arrogance that surrounded their first Asian Cup campaign four years ago.

Another chapter was meanwhile written in the colourful football history between these two countries and whilst there isn't a prevailing animosity, it is a rivalry that you sense both the players and supporters enjoy.

In four years Australia will have the opportunity to go one step further when they host the tournament themselves, whilst Japan look to defend a crown that they deservedly hold.
I for one cannot wait!

As adults we are constantly encouraging our children to bcome better at what they do, willing them to have the constant desire to increase their own motivation and to achieve greater things. Yet we often fall short of it ourselves year after year.

At Little Kickers, from session to session we aim to improve many different aspects of childrens' lives; our carefully planned sessions include progressions that challenge the children both mentally and physically. The children most importantly are having lots of fun and learning lots of different concepts at the same time.

These children may be the Socceroo players of the future; let's hope so as the fundamental skills they learn with Little Kickers will be invaluable whatever they decide to do later on in life.

Here's to a great 2011 and the year of the Rabbit!
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