Kids 13: Seniors


We had a jet at one of my clubs. Jeez he was good! Everybody thought he was a chance to be AFL. Soon, he believed it, too. They all wanted a piece of him. Before long, he was 15 and playing seniors every week. It was the worst thing they could have done to him. It ruined his career.

Some kids can step up, and should. Others are too slight, or timid, or just not confident enough to take on adults.

The kid only got about 5-6 touches a game. He was a great kid, too. Would follow instructions, listened, trained hard.

A number of senior players became scornful of him, even though it wasn’t his fault. “What’s he doing in the bloody Ones? He’s scared.” No, you morons, he’s a ripper 15 year old kid.

At that age it’s about two things. 1. Fun. 2. Learning. In the juniors he could have been racking up 30 touches a week. Thirty times a game he would learn to make the right decisions, to have fun doing it. How much can a kid learn on only 80 touches in a whole year?

His confidence was shot. The letdown of not even making an AFL Under 19s list left him not loving the game. The people who put him up and kept him up sneered and said he was no good.

I fought the selection of him every week.

Then there were other kids I actively pushed in front of the senior selectors’ faces. They were tough, brash, or simply confident. They were ready.

As a junior coach, the next ten years of a kid’s footy life are in your hands. Which, at that age, is a massive part of his life in general. And, for you, a big responsibility. Everybody wants to hop on a bandwagon. But the castle it is heading towards is often on a path much, much, much higher than people at a local footy club ever realise. Do everything you can to help push a kid forward. EVERYTHING. But keep a lid on the hype. Know your charge, and what they are ready for.

Know what’s in their best interests, not those around them.



  1. Another good one Matt. A while back there was some analysis which showed AFL players were significantly more likely to be born in the first half of the year. The suggestion at the time was that being more mature physically and mentally than your peers (even if just by 6-9 months) benefits developing footballers. Let guns be guns.

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