AFL releases new rules for junior footy

 The AFL has released new Junior Rules with the aim of keeping thousands of young boys and girls playing Australian rules football for longer and to help clubs across the country attract and retain players to boost participation. 

The new AFL Junior Rules have been developed in consultation with community leagues, clubs and key local football stakeholder groups and are backed by extensive research. 

The rules are designed to maximise fun, increase involvement, support skill development and help kids stay connected and love being a part of the game. 

To help grow numbers and to create stronger local leagues and clubs across the country, the rules are to be introduced across the next two seasons of footy.

Replacing the Junior Match Policy, which was established in 2013, the new Junior Rules strive to grow the game and provide better experiences for boys and girls playing footy so they stay involved for longer and keep coming back to the game. The Junior Rules also help to give clarity to clubs and volunteers so there’s consistency in terms of rules and formats for each age group. 

Key updates to the new age-appropriate rules include:

  • Team numbers: Reduced team sizes in junior age groups to help ensure everyone gets a go, with team numbers progressively increasing through the age groups
  • Ground sizes and zones: Recommended ground sizes suitable for the number of players for each particular age group, to ensure players are never far from the ball and to maximise available space. Multiple games can occur at the same time on a footy oval.
  • Progressive introduction to tackling: Right rules for the right skill level. Contact is gradually introduced to help kids learn and develop as they progress
  • No scoring in the lowest age groups: Scoreboards, ladders and finals introduced at older age groups

Data shows modifying these areas will enable 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 to the AFL Junior Rules 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 too,” Auld said.

“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, everyone in footy saw that as a common goal. 

“There’s been a lot of collaboration and thorough research analysed during the process to ensure this is what’s best for young players and the future of our game as we strive to have footy in every home in Australia.”

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,” Phillips said.

“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 medallist, 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,” Lloyd said.

For more information including an FAQ on the new AFL Junior Rules head to:

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