Competition review series: Gaps 5 & 7
Football Canada unveiled a series of recommendations to fill and improve upon eight gaps uncovered during a review of the competitive structure of football in Canada. The current step in the process is for the football community to review the recommendations and provide feedback.
We caught up with Football Canada technical coordinator, Aaron Geisler, a member of the competition review committee, to learn more about the proposed strategies. Over the coming weeks, we’ll break down each of the eight gaps. Today’s series focuses on gaps five and seven—non-contact programming and female development pathways.
Gap five highlights a need to improve upon non-contact programming across Canada.
“There’s been a ton of growth in flag and touch football participation across Canada, but what we’ve found is that there’s still much more room for non-contact football to grow. The LTAD explains how great of a tool flag and touch football can be to help develop player’s fundamental movements such as catching, throwing and running.”
“In terms of the LTAD, there’s a real opportunity to expand programming across Canada in the FUNdamental stage (6-9 in boys, 6-8 in girls) as well as the Learn to Train stage (10-12 in boys, 9-11 in girls). There’s also a third opportunity to expand in non-contact programming when it comes to players over the age of 18 – both competitively and recreationally.”
Non-contact programs should continue to grow as a result of a recommendation made in gap two, introducing football through non-contact competition.
“We’d also like to get players under the age of 8 to play non-contact football to focus on skill development and then allow for the initiation of contact in their later years. Hopefully, some of these athletes will enjoy the non-contact game so much that they’ll carry on playing the discipline for many years.”
Non-contact football is an appealing discipline to begin athlete’s football participation as it not only focuses on still development but can be easily tailored to suit athlete’s development.
“Football needs to do a better job of tailoring the competition environment to the development of its athletes, especially at the youngest ages. Baseball introduces young athletes to the sport through t-ball, followed by coach pitch then starts kids out in smaller diamonds – basketball uses smaller balls as well as lower nets. One of the aspects I think our sport can improve upon is modifying our competition environment to best suit the development stages of our athletes and non-contact football is one of those perfect vehicles.”
To develop non-contact programs, the strategy suggests working with existing community partners to develop programs in these key areas.
“There’s a ton of advantages to playing non-contact football, whether it be finding facilities, to being able to play indoors or outdoors, to organizing tournaments. Aspects like needing less equipment keeps costs down and fewer players on a team adds to the appeal of non-contact football.”
A number of the fundamental skills and techniques learned through participation in non-contact carry over to tackle football.
“Flag and touch are great ways for tackle football players to enhance their skills while staying in shape. Non-contact’s also a great way for players to develop fundamentals like defensive coverage, passing, route running, ball skills, and pursuit angles which can form a strong base should an athlete want to transition to tackle football.”
The second recommendation in gap two, suggests the creation of a national senior, non-contact league.
“It’s really an exciting strategy as there’s a ton of potential when looking at creating national, non-contact leagues. Working towards provincial and national competitions for flag and touch in every province in Canada and then possibly having those older aged provincial winners come together for a regional or national tournament is really interesting.”
The seventh gap discovered in the current competition structure of football in Canada revolved around pathways for female participation and competition.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth at the senior women’s tackle level and the inaugural 2010 Women’s World Championship was a huge catalyst for this. The western women’s league continues to grow along with the Montreal Blitz (which play in the U.S. based IWFL) and the Maritime league.”
“We’d like to explore additional ways to grow female football and do so with girls tackle and non-contact football. One of the ways we’d like to help is to bring together a group of passionate female representatives who can share ideas and work together to build a development system for female football at all levels.”
“Building avenues for girls and women to participate in football isn’t going to happen overnight but I hope that as a nation, we continue to grow women’s football.”
Non-contact and female football streams represent two key areas of growth for the sport of football in Canada in the coming years.
We welcome your feedback
For more information about how to leave feedback as well as a full list of identified gaps and strategies, click here.
5-A. Non-contact programming
Recommendation: Work with partners including the CFL, CJFL, and CIS to expand non-contact programming .
5-B. Football Canada non-contact league
Strongly recommend: Create and establish a national, non-contact league organized under the Football Canada umbrella including the PSO’s as conferences .
7-A. Female football development
Recommendation: Strike a committee of female representatives to further investigate the lack of female programming, keeping boys and girls leagues separate where numbers allow, and having a female only option in the Player Development Program. .
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