Playing just for kicks: keeping score isn’t the goal for junior footy players

ORANGE’S young AFL players won’t have to worry about changes to the game following an announcement by the national body of the code to dispense with a scoreboard, ladder and match results.

“All our junior players already play under a system where that doesn’t happen and our main emphasis is on learning the skills of the game,” said Orange Tigers spokesperson Nicole Pearce.

Mrs Pearce said the club takes a low key approach to any competition in the sport for young children up to the age of 12.

“Our kids play under the Auskick system where they play with a different team each week, and their positions change around to give them more skills and variety,” she said.

“We don’t keep score,” she said.

Mrs Pearce said children under 12 just turn up to their game on Sunday mornings with training only introduced once a week when junior players progress to the under 12 age group, when scoring is also introduced.

“It’s interesting, but even the young ones playing a sport where there is no scoring actually keep score themselves"

National development manager of the AFL Josh Vanderloo said the new rules to be introduced Australia wide were put together with a focus on children enjoying the game without the pressure of coming up trumps with the top score at the end.

Regional co-ordinator of the Active After School communities program Beth Shea, who has been involved in junior and senior hockey for  years, said the initiative backs up research findings children have to enjoy themselves in their chosen sport which will encourage them to stick at it and involves the two-pronged approach encompassing participation and enjoyment.

However she said maintaining a win/lose balance as children progress to higher age groups is heavily dependent on the competitive attitudes of coaches and parents.

“It’s interesting, but even the young ones playing a sport where there is no scoring actually keep score themselves.”

President of the Orange Netball Association Jacki Jasprizza agrees.

“There are a few kids who are just competitive, always keep score and know where everyone is on the ladder,” she said.

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Mrs Jasprizza said however the association incorporates the NetSetGO system in  Orange where netballers up to the age of 12 don’t play under a scoring system.

“So by the time they are 12 they are ready to take that next step up to the scoring system,” she said.

Representatives of Orange’s football [soccer] and rugby league associations have also said their clubs have a strong emphasis on playing for fun in their junior ranks with no scoring up until the age of 12.

Mrs Shea said one of the new initiatives being looked at by the Orange Hockey Association is to introduce a six-week twilight competition to give children an opportunity to gauge whether or not they want to continue.

“For some parents spending money to get all the gear, and pay the fees only to find their child doesn’t like the sport is not a positive experience,” she said.

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