Touch Victoria Tackling Junior Participation
Touch Football Victoria (TFV) is a unique sport in the sense that the majority of their participant base are currently adults. This is a trend they are trying to reverse by offering more programs and activities to get more juniors involved in the sport.
Touch Football has the benefit of being a sport for life, and a sport that can be enjoyed by all regardless of age or gender. Being a relatively small and unknown sport in Victoria, TFV have the challenge of introducing the sport to more children at an early age in order to gain participants who can play this sport their whole life, and increase their talent pool of young athletes who can progress through the elite pathways.
In 2011 TFV had less than 100 participants competing in age groups below under 15s. Today the sport has over 5,000 primary school-aged boys and girls playing across the state. This number is expected to climb again in 2017 and beyond.
By leveraging strategic partnerships and creating successful programs, TFV has been able to steadily grow numbers whilst creating sustainable products. The following partners have been involved in the success of TFV:
- School Sport Victoria and the School Sport Australia tours
- Melbourne Storm and the Victoria Storm representative program
- Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) and the various projects and initiatives under the SVSR grant
- VicHealth and the Healthy Eating and Inactive grants
- ASC and the Sporting Schools Program
Junior female participation in the sport in organised competition, and juniors in general, have remained a challenge for Touch Football in Victoria, with junior female players only making up 3.31% of the total participation (total junior participation is at 6.64%). However, the school engagement and event space continues to experience significant growth with 53 female teams from 17 schools and 585 athletes competing in the Victoria Schools Touch Football League (VSTFL) and a further 428 female athletes competing at the Victorian School Touch Championships (Primary and Secondary).
The majority of growth in participation is thanks to the introduction of under 12s competitions. Before 2011, a participant’s first exposure to the sport was in an under 15s competition or going along to their mum or dad’s game. Since introducing this new age group, TFV has been able to become more competitive as children have been exposed to the sport for a much longer period. In addition to introducing under 12s, TFV have also launched new initiatives such as running academies and development tours for those athletes looking to progress.
The sport now has a representative pathway for female athletes from 12 years and under up to Women’s 35’s and over. This pathway includes:
- School Sport Australia Touch Championships (SSATC) 12 & Under and 15 & Under Girls
- National Youth Championships (NYC) U18’s Girls
- Alliance Cup Women’s Opens
- National Touch League (NTL) TLeague Women’s and Senior Women’s (Victoria Storm Women’s 27’s and Women’s 35’s)
- Elite 8 and Alliance Women’s (Victorian representatives in the satellite program)
The ongoing challenge now is continuing to provide more places and opportunities to play. TFV are working closely with local associations and schools to offer junior competitions. To support this growth, TFV are continuing to grow the numbers and capacity of their volunteers, officials and umpires to keep up with demand.
If you would like to know more, or would like to get involved, please contact:
Sport Operations Manager
Phone: (02) 6212 2824