The selection of junior teams involves balancing individual participation with skill development and the shift towards greater competition as children mature.
Coaches and club junior sport administrators usually manage the selection process.
Information to help you understand the issue
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- Junior sport should be fun, safe, enjoyable and inclusive, and maximise individual participation.
- Children are less likely to enjoy sport if there is an over emphasis on winning, they don’t get enough playing time or they don’t play with their friends.
- Providing children with a broad range of experiences (team positions) adds variety, sustains interest and fosters skill development. Those on an elite development pathway will begin to specialise at varying ages depending on the sport.
- Well graded competitions allow for better skill development and cater to children, particularly those in their teenage years, who seek competitiveness.
- Early specialisation can result in overuse injuries, over training, boredom, limit skill development and prevent a broad understanding of the game. Some who experience specialisation at an early age drop out of sport.
State and commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against a young person when selecting teams.
However, there are some exceptions including:
- the placement of young people into specified age groups
- restricting young people who can’t effectively compete or have a disability
- exclusion on the basis of gender for those 12 and over. However, this is a grey area and court judgements have varied widely.