WA Soccer Fee warns junior golf equipment towards ‘bullying’ younger avid gamers out of the sport

The West Australian Football Commission has sent a strongly worded email to all junior clubs saying that young players are being bullied out of teams because they cannot keep up with intense training programs.

The email, sent to all WA junior AFL clubs last week, refers to reports of junior players in the 11 to 13 age bracket being pressured by coaches to undertake demanding time trials, running and strength programs.

“From what I have been told, this is being conducted to try and gain a competitive advantage over others and to weed out those who ‘aren’t taking their footy seriously’ and who can’t achieve what is being asked, essentially bullying that player out of the team,” the email said.

Coaches who did not have the best interests of the players at heart were also called out.

“If this is the case and it is happening at community level, the only reason would be that the coach has more of a desire to win than the players,” the email said.

“Coaches with these intentions do not have the best interests of their players at heart and I would recommend reconsidering letting this person coach your team.”


‘A way to discriminate’

The commission’s executive manager of game development and community football, Troy Kirkham, said fitness was important for kids playing sport, but not at all costs.

“What we don’t want to be doing is using fitness as a way to discriminate or separate kids out,” Mr Kirkham told Nadia Mitsopolous on ABC Radio Perth.

“We want to make sure that the focus should be on skill development and players actually having fun and enjoyment in the game.

“[We] started to see some trends around that 11, 12, 13 age group — whilst we understand it is starting to get a little bit more serious at that age, and we want to make sure that kids are fit, we’re also trying to keep kids in the game for as long as we possibly can.”

Kids playing Aussie Rules on an oval.

A regional junior AFL coach has quit over new ‘spirit of the game’ rule.(Supplied)

‘A game for everyone’

Mr Kirkham said some fitness and strength programs could cause stress fractures and overuse injuries in pre-teen players.

“Particularly at that younger age, where we know that kids are going through growth spurts, they’re developing and hitting puberty through those teenage years — we’re really mindful that kids don’t get burnt out,” he said.

“We’re really mindful that things like this, where we’re separating kids out because of their fitness or their their ability, we want to make sure we stamp that out of the game, because footy should be a game for everyone.”

Mr Kirkham said while the majority of coaches were doing the right thing, some were taking the game “far too seriously”.

“This is more of an education thing, making sure that people are aware that we want to make sure kids are enjoying their footy, and they’re going to stay around for the long-term,” he said.

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