THE WA Football Commission (WAFC) is out to retain more teenagers at footy clubs.
It follows the findings of a youth football working group formed to develop strategies to retain 13 to 17-year-old players and to research reasons for dropping out of the sport.
The group included representatives from the WAFC, WAFL clubs, WA Amateur Football League, WA Country Football League, District Football Development Council and independent consultant Craig Turley, a former West Coast Eagles player who specialises in community and social effect research.
It surveyed more than 600 players, coaches, parents and club committee members on topics such as reasons for drop-out, engagement in school football, influence of other sports and the effect of coaching.
Recommendations were included in a WAFC youth football participation plan for 2017-2020.
Key focus areas:
Create an environment where players continue to have fun, enjoy the game, learn new skills and are challenged.
Develop and support quality coaches. The effect of the coach on player retention is critical.
Consider new timeslots and alternative game formats such as Friday night games and 15-a-side football to address competing time demands with school, study and work.
Build stronger partnerships between junior clubs, schools and senior clubs to improve conversion rates through the age groups.
WAFC football operations executive manager Jon Haines said retaining young people was “important for the future of our game as it is a feeder for talent, colts and senior community competitions”.
“It is promising that we have managed to arrest a declining participation trend in youth club football over the past couple of years with 0.5 per cent growth in 2015 and 2 per cent growth for males in 2016,” he said.
“But we know there is still a significant amount of work to do to ensure this can be maintained and increased further,” he said.
Players interested in registering for football this season are encouraged to visit www.playafl.com.au.