On a cold Saturday morning in winter, you would be forgiven for not wanting to rush from the comfort of the fireplace to the side of a frost brushed football field, though for Shane and Monique Soutter, it is just another day at Wee Waa United FC.
Shane, who works at the nearby Namoi Cotton, is the first-grade coach and a player, while Monique is the President of the club and a local primary school teacher.
Having moved to the small town with a short visit in mind, the pair have found themselves an important piece in the fabric of the football club.
“I said to my husband, can we move up here for 12-months for my teaching? Though I knew if I was to take him away from his soccer that I had to find him a soccer club,” Monique said.
“He joined in on a pre-season training session with Wee Waa… When he came home, he told me they were so short on numbers that he had signed me up as well, knowing very well I hadn’t ever played.”
The average Saturday for the family of five is a chaotic one with their four-year-old daughter playing in Narrabri, while Shane doubles as coach for their son’s Under 8-9s side. Their two-year-old son more likely than not to feature in the red, white, and blue in future years.
“If we have a home game, we are normally there by 7:30 in the morning and we don’t go till about quarter to six at night,” Monique said.
“My game starts at about 1:30pm and then Shane player coaches the first-grade team at 3pm.”
Monique’s contribution to the region’s football was acknowledged earlier this year, recognised as part of the Newcastle Permanent Community Recognition Awards in May.
“I have taken a lead role with the seniors for the majority of the time we have been here,” she said.
“The last two years, the paperwork around COVID has been a challenge… The QR code this year has made it a bit easier.”
And while Monique is the first to admit her soccer skills are not likely to bring her selection with the Matildas, the fun and fitness that comes with local sport is enough to keep her coming back.
“As the other teams will tell you we generally spend half the time talking and laughing as we try not to pass out on the field,” she said.
“I still much prefer watching my husband play!”
Home to just over 2000-people, Wee Waa is clearly passionate about its football with more than 130-registered players in 2021.
In more recent times, the club has thrown focus towards an upgrade of home ground, Cook Oval.
“I would really like to see the development of our field… We are working with the Council to constantly upgrade it, though with the drought out here for so long it did a lot of damage,” Monique said.
“We have a lot more registered players than we have had for a long time so it would be great to see those numbers constantly increase, and also to try and get more people to volunteer.”