Social, inclusive soccer set to arrive in the Hills

Upwey local Jorge Gonez (back) training with the Grasshopper Soccer program in Perth at the end of 2023. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

By Tyler Wright

A grassroots sports initiative is set to kick off in the Dandenong Ranges this young, helping very young soccer fiends get into the sport in a non-competitive way.

Upwey local Jorge Gonez is preparing to launch Grasshopper Soccer on Saturday 10 February for children aged two to 12 years old in the Ferntree Gully, Upwey, Belgrave, Lysterfield areas after noticing a lack of Grasshopper programs in the area.

“I was born in Uruguay, a soccer mad country, and played semi-professionally in three countries, Uruguay, Australia and Sweden,” Gonez, a franchisee, said.

“When we moved to the area a few years ago, I noticed that Grasshoppers were no longer running in the region and decided to kick-off the grassroots Grasshopper soccer program in the Hills, with the firm belief that there would be a need for non-competitive sports programs in the


A community-based Australian soccer organisation, Gonez said Grasshopper Soccer aims to teach children the basics of playing soccer in a “fun, social and non-competitive environment,” with the social and mental aspect just as important as the physical.

“The children learn how to interact in a stress-free environment, learning how to share, take turns, listen to instructions, and work as a team; getting positive reinforcement for their achievements,” Gonez said.

“It has been documented that 30-40 per cent of a child’s waking time is spent in front of a screen, it’s more than ever important that kids get the opportunity to get outside and be active.

“Grasshopper Soccer programs are about the kids, about the community and about fun and inclusion.”

The outdoor program, which is open to all children from ages two to 12 years old, will run across two locations: Ferntree Gully North Primary School on Saturday mornings from 10 February, and Fairhills Primary School on Sunday mornings from 11 February 2024.

The biggest aim for children who attend the sessions, Gonez said, is to not only have fun and develop amazing skills but to leave each session with a smile of their face.

“I experienced this first hand during my training in Perth at the end of 2023 and it gives a great feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

Kids are also not alone in their involvement in training, with parental involvement a “key element” at Grasshopper Soccer, according to Gonez.

“We encourage parents to get active with their children, especially in the programs designed for younger players,” he said.

Use his love of soccer to create positive experiences through sport and make a “lasting impact” on children’s lives gives Gonez “great pleasure”.

“Through sports, I am committed to helping the next generation of children gain the skills they need to be successful in soccer and in forming positive relationships,” he said.

“It is exciting to provide a fun, growth experience for the boys and girls in the Hills area.”

To learn more about how to get involved in the Grasshopper Soccer program, visit or

Programs run each school term.