Competition review series: Gaps 6 and 8
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 past weeks, we’ve broken down each of the eight gaps. The last installment of our series focuses on gaps six and eight—appropriate competition levels and high performance pathways.
The sixth gap focuses on providing appropriate competitive levels for players of varying developmental ages.
“Gap six revolves around trying to correct our sport’s ability to allow players of the same developmental age to compete together rather than simply categorizing based on chronological age alone,” Geisler said. “This could ultimately mean tiering or another form of adjustment.”
“A first step in this process is to give opportunities for all players under the age of 14 a chance to participate in our sport. If they’ve been cut from a team, it’s unlikely that they’ll return.”
“Ultimately, the system needs to do a better job of helping less developed, skilled, or experienced players improve based on their developmental age. This may mean allowing certain athletes to play back or down a level with players of a more similar developmental age, inviting them to attend development camps, play in a different tier or using a modified game.”
The idea of appropriate competition also extends to league competition.
“One of our other recommendations is for leagues to examine tiering their playoffs. If possible, a good opportunity to promote competition between teams of similar caliber is to introduce multiple championships.”
“For a 12 team league, this would mean that the top four teams would have their own draw (Tier-A championship), teams 5-8 (Tier-B) would compete and teams 9-12 (Tier-C) would also compete. These teams would be more similarly matched, promoting development. They would also get to play two playoff games and have a chance at an A, B, or C championship.”
During discussions, the committee could not reach a consensus on a national strategy on how to implement tiering.
“We’d like the football system to provide opportunities for players to develop and continue their participation in the sport, especially at young ages instead of simply cutting players from rosters,” explained Geisler. “Given the size and complexity of our system, it was difficult to develop a strategy that worked for all.”
“We’d like to see more organizations implement a form of tiering where possible. For example, instead of simply cutting 10-15 players from a 12-a-side roster, that group could form a 6 or 9-a-side developmental or tier-2 tackle team. That same group could form one or more flag or touch football teams. In this fashion, we’re still giving those players who want to play a chance to improve their skills and participate in the sport. With a little more experience, it’s the hope that those players improve to the point where they can play at the more competitive levels or at least continue playing recreationally.”
The eighth and final gap revolves around high performance pathways. Specifically, it points to inconsistent opportunities for players to compete in regional and provincial championships at the U16 and U18 levels.
“Football (both non-contact and tackle) continues to expand on the national and world’s stage however, with this expansion we have to ensure that we have pathways leading to these high performance stages,” said Geisler.
Championship competition during player’s teenage years is an important step of the LTAD.
“According to the LTAD, U14 is really the stage where high performance competition is set to be introduced, but currently our competition system is missing opportunities for players to compete regionally, provincially, and inter-provincially at the U14, U16 and U18 levels.”
“Through high performance competition players can test themselves as they’re introduced to elite competition. We want to build our high performance programs from the ground up – aspects like strength and conditioning programs, and physical testing can be gradually introduced as well as be used for provincial and/or national team identification.”
“Competition will not only improve our athletes, coaches and officials, but also the identification and preparation of those participants for future levels of competition.”
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.
6-A. Opportunity for everyone to play
i. Mandate: Cannot prevent a player from an opportunity to play based on his/her skill level at the U14 level or below .
ii. Recommendation: Cannot prevent a player from an opportunity to play based on his/her skill level at the U16 level .
8-A. Regional and provincial championships
Recommendation: Create both regional (U16 & U18) and provincial (U14 & U16) championships [2019-2020].
This post is also available in: French