National Participation Framework Update

The 2024 AFL South Coast season will see the Phase One rollout for the National Participation Framework for junior football. Phase One of the rollout incorporates the Under-9s competition and will see minor changes for the South Coast.

Across the competition’s rules, Under-9s will remain non-competitive with a focus on development and participation, and will implement strict adjustments to field size, team size and marking skills.

In 2024, Under-9s field sizes will be reduced to 85m x 65m as optimal, down from 2023’s 100m x 80m. This change will be accompanied by a mandatory reduction in on-field and team player size to nine (9), with a maximum of 12 on a team sheet.

Match times will remain similar to previous seasons, and a modified marking rule will be implemented to pay a mark where a player shows control of catching the ball, on a kick of any distance.

As this framework is being released nationally, there is no scope to make amendments locally, and we are excited to see improvements to participant experience off the back of these changes.

Casey White, Competition Manager – AFL South Coast spoke about the importance of building a foundation for player retention through these initiatives.

“We are fortunate in the South Coast to already be doing a lot of what the Participation Framework entails at Under-9s level. There’ll be limited change to our structure, but we hope the experience our players get, with fewer on-field and smaller grounds allow for more players to progress through the full junior pathway.

“In addition, the reduction in on-field numbers incentivises clubs to enter multiple teams in the Under-9s, which is where we hope our new girls’ competitions can get off the ground successfully. We are working on some support mechanisms for clubs to facilitate these teams, via coach and volunteer education as well as financial support and we look forward to sharing these with clubs in early 2024.”  Moving forward, the transition to the National Participation Framework will continue with updates to the Under-11s competition structure in 2025. These have been outlined with club presidents at league delegates meetings and clubs will be supported throughout 2024 for their rollout.