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03 September 2012
Ensuring a fair go at finals time
The finals are upon us and every player, regardless of their age or experience, is keen to pull on the club outfit and get some game time in an important match. But how do clubs ensure team selection is fair? What are the priorities? How do we keep all members on side?
The answer to all these questions is - policy. Sure, it can be boring but it is the carefully considered and documented policies of the club that will help to prevent the hot-headed debate that often goes on between members, players and coaches all over the country at this time of year.
Selecting a team is a big responsibility and often a thankless task that rests with coaches; most of whom are unpaid and operating on common sense and experience. Especially in junior teams, it requires a deft balancing act between participation and skill development, often with the high expectations of vocal parents thrown into the mix. As children mature there is a shift toward skills and competitiveness and then for older players performance may be the key criteria.
At all levels the selection process must be free of favouritism or bias and based on sound guidelines that are easily understood and applied. Policy!
Think about your club’s values. Do you value participation or is the priority to field a team with the best chance of winning? Do your objectives change according to the age and ability of the participants? Perhaps attendance at training and payment of fees are also important.
So, what should a selection policy include? If it answers these simple questions you will be on the way to a dispute-free finals season:
- How will the selection process work?
- Who will be responsible for team selection?
- Who should members contact if they believe there is an issue?
- What dates and timeframes will apply?
- What selection criteria will apply?
- How will a player appeal a decision?
Once your policy is finalised make sure you:
- let your members know about the club’s selection policy, post it on your website and let people know it’s there via social media;
- give coaches a copy and ask them to read it. Invite them to discuss anything they don’t understand or have issue with;
- encourage coaches to finalise selection criteria well before the selection period begins to give all players the chance to review them and to meet the selection criteria;
- communicate it to prospective members to help your club recruit the right people.
Of course, some complaints about team selection are a result of unlawful discrimination. Not choosing a person because of their race, religion, sexuality or other personal attribute may result in a complaint being made to the Australian Human Rights Commission or a state/territory anti-discrimination agency.
The Play by the Rules website includes a toolkit with easy-to-use Team Selection Policy templates for open and junior grades. There is also practical advice about team selection plus information about discrimination law and how it applies to the issue of team selection.
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