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The AFL has also introduced new rules for junior leagues with purpose of retaining young players longer and assisting clubs across Australia. Attraction and retention in needed to as is boosting participation. The endeavor included input from community leagues, clubs, and key local football stakeholder groups and involved extensive research. The AFL says the rules are designed to maximize fun, increase involvement, support skill development, and help kids stay connected and love being a part of the game. The new rules will be gradually introduced over the next two seasons. The AFL also believes the new rules will give clarity to clubs and volunteers so there is consistency in terms of rules and formats for each age group.

Key updates and goals for the new age-appropriate rules include:

  • Team numbers will be reduced in junior age groups to ensure everyone gets a chance to play. Team numbers will increase progressively through the different age groups.
  • Ground size and zone recommendations which are suitable for the number of players for each particular age group, to ensure players are never far from the ball and to maximize available space. Multiple games can occur at the same time on a footy oval.
  • Progressive introduction to tackling with right rules for the right skill level. Contact will be gradually introduced to help kids learn and develop as they progress.
  • No scoring in the lowest age groups Scoreboards, standings, and finals to be introduced at older age groups.
  • These new rules will allow children to be in the game more, help to progressively develop skills, avoid 'kick-chasing' congestion, and instill a fun-first, team-oriented mindset.

AFL Executive General Manager of Game Development, Rob Auld, said updating the rules was an important step in growing the game and ensuring positive experiences for all players, "It is our responsibility to provide clear and consistent national guidelines for junior footy and we believe the changes ... will result in more children playing local footy and keep kids involved in clubs for longer. It will improve experiences for those already involved in our game as well as new participants ... We identified the need to rework the existing framework to ensure we’re delivering best practice, industry leading guidelines for our young players, and we strongly encourage all leagues, clubs and families around Australia to support the modifications. Research tells us that when boys and girls are playing age-appropriate rules it increases player involvement, creating a positive match experience and a fun, inclusive environment for all participants. This then leads to players being more likely to return each season, ensuring they stay connected to our game and their community, while developing their skills in a safe manner over time and increasing their chance to succeed as they progress through the pathways. More kids playing makes for stronger clubs and leagues ... There's been a lot of collaboration and thorough research analyzed during the process to ensure this is what's best for young players and the future of our game ... ".

Triple AFLW premiership player and dual AFLW best and fairest winner Erin Phillips said these rules will have a positive impact on junior footy and the players: "It's not meant to be all about winning in junior football, it's about making sure every player on the team is having fun and learning. By applying age-appropriate rules, it allows players to execute skills at their level, giving them a sense of accomplishment and ensures players who are new to the sport have a chance to get involved in an inclusive environment while also having fun."

Former Essendon great and Coleman medalist, Matthew Lloyd echoed Phillips sentiments and welcomed the changes: "The new AFL Junior Rules allow skills to be learnt at the right time developmentally for players and allows them to action those skills effectively in a suitable game situation, leading to a more exciting play and more importantly, players wanting to play the game for longer..."

Source: afl.com.au

Article last changed on Sunday, March 10, 2024 - 8:42 AM EDT


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