Redfern Oval is more than just a training base for the South Sydney Rabbitohs to strategise and build on their premiership-winning side.
Redfern Oval is the spiritual home of South Sydney, where kids are sure to remember playing at as they grow older. It's a paddock which has seen blood, sweat, tears and jeers over many, many years. Rabbitohs utility and local junior Jason Clark is just one of the countless players who began their rugby league journey on this sacred ground.
A Coogee Randwick Wombats junior and life member, Clark recalled the old Redfern Oval days, as he looked over the ground which set him on the path to achieving his lifelong goal of becoming a South Sydney player.
"Probably my biggest memory of playing junior football was playing at Redfern Oval – obviously it's a lot different now – but there used to be the hill there and the old school scoreboard over there," Clark told NRL.com as he pointed out the attractions of the Oval's previous incarnation.
"As a young bloke you'd play earlier on in the day and watch all the older boys in the afternoon so by the time A Grade was on there would be a big bunch of us on the hill. There were these big light posts with cages around them and we'd love playing footy on the hill."
Clark is a Rabbitoh through and through and to see the club go through their demise, reintroduction and resurgence blows the 25-year-old away even to this day.
However, his attraction to rugby league initially came from his father and fellow Wombats life member Gary – his father's inspiration has Clark trying to do his bit for the Coogee Randwick club even to this day.
"He didn't play anything big but I just wanted to do what my dad had done. I was lucky enough to have him his as my junior coach as a kid and we won our first grand final here at Redfern Oval in under-12s which was an absolutely awesome feeling," Clark said.
"I still love doing stuff with the Wombats and I want to do a bit with the club this year from the juniors all the way up to A Grade if they want me to help.
"They do a lot for the kids at the end of the year as well. They try to take them on a footy trip. I know we went to the snow a lot as a kid with a good bunch of blokes which was awesome."
Noting the importance of junior rugby league in the South Sydney area, Clark said the Rabbitohs' premiership win in 2014 would have been influential in encouraging young kids to play and others to volunteer.
"I think for local kids to see South Sydney do so well is amazing for them and hopefully it inspires them," Clark said.
"I think there's soccer that the kids can play but it's very expensive. So as a local kid around South Sydney to play footy – you get a jumper, shorts and socks – and pay for a mouthguard and boots and you're set.
"It's a good opportunity for kids to get out and get fit. You hear a lot of stories about kids being inside and playing on the computer these days but there's nothing better than being outside and playing footy with your mates."