Tips for committees on junior sport selection

Sport clubs usually have to manage a variety of team selections directly, from pre-season grading to special team selection.

For club committees and/or selection panels, here are some good practises to follow:

1. Understand your sport guidelines - where appropriate, be familiar with your overarching sports guidelines on junior sport. This might come from a national, state and/or regional level. There is likely to be guidelines that will impact directly on selection. For example, age groups/restrictions or no scores/placings for children under a certain age.

2. Develop selection policies/guidelines - document the who, why, what, when, where and how of your team selections.

  • Detail key information, which will vary greatly between each situation, but might include things like selection philosophy, criteria, eligibility, selection committee, dates/times, how people will be notified, appeals, contact details and so on.
  • Be open and transparent, provide as much information as you can.
  • Search the web for policy examples or check with your regional/state/national body – copy and modify other policies to your needs. You may need several policies depending on your sport/club e.g., pre-season grading policy, one-off selection policy.

3. Develop coach guidelines - some sport club committees may need to develop coach guidelines – setting out to your club coaches what you expect as a club when it comes to the week-in, week-out decisions e.g., equal playing time for all juniors, player time during finals. 

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate - when it comes to selections, communication is critical. Keeping people informed sets expectations and builds trust in the process. Communicate before, during and after selections via email, website or face-to-face briefings.

5. Be honest and understanding - team selections are often not a perfect science and sometimes people are disappointed. Explain this beforehand and set realistic expectations with your club/group.

6. Be consistent– with your policy in your actions and all communication, written and verbal.

7. Deal with issues immediately – don’t ignore them. Unhappy players and parents, justified or not, can create an unhappy team/club culture.

8. Review and update policies – after each major selection (e.g., preseason grading), sit down and review your selection process while it’s fresh in your mind. Update your policy for next season.

Selections, member protection and the law

Most sports have a Member Protection Policy. It usually includes information on codes of conduct, anti-discrimination, bullying and complaints processes. It can be a useful reference if there are serious selection matters, such as potential discrimination. State and commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate. When it comes to team selection, there can be 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 judgments have varied widely. Read more on Got an issue – Girls Playing In Boys Teams

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