Losing junior games can be a good life lesson

COMMENT

THERE will be no more winners so that everyone is a winner?

The AFL’s latest move is symptomatic of society’s politically correct cottonballing gone mad.

Scoreboards will be completely wiped across the nation for under-10s in a bid to promote participation.

What will be next? Half-time oranges must be accompanied with a red cherries, green apple and blueberries to ensure every child’s favourite fruit be available?

Oh, the outrage if the mum or dad on fruit duty leave out little Johnny’s pink grapefruit!

Revelations yesterday that the AFL’s no winners games will be rolled out across the nation’s under-10s was perfect fuel for shock jocks and morning television commentators to act outraged.

The policy is not new.

Ballarat Football League has fielded an under-10 competition for almost a decade without keeping score or ladders.

AFL Goldfields general manager Rod Ward, who supported the rule, said it made the competition focus more on fun.

What the policy unveiling does highlight, however, is general concern on where we draw the line.

How long until some expert deems it should extend through to under-18s so volatile teenagers have one less dramatic crisis to deal with in their lives?

Our junior athletes will lose out on valuable life skills by not losing at all.

Yes, junior sport’s focus should always be on having fun, being healthy and making new friends. These are values that can be encouraged from the top, by coaches, in so many different ways.

Losing does not stamp you a failure.

Being branded differently, “losing” or “missing out” can make you more resilient and improve analytical skills to strive to be better next time with your teammates. Not to mention the fun in trying to outwit a nemesis in good-natured fashion.

Even in heavy losses, there are so many important lessons junior athletes can learn in setting mini-targets – getting one goal back at a time against the opposition, never giving in, learning sometimes to laugh at yourself.

Learning to regroup – win, lose or draw – is fundamental to coping with life’s challenges.

Melanie Whelan was a nuggety little junior netballer who grew up without a natural athletic flair but who always knew sometimes the underdog could prevail, thanks to a movie like The Mighty Ducks, based on pee-wee hockey matches that involved scoreboards.

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