Competitive engineering in Junior Australian Football: Perceptions and experiences of parents, children and coaches of 9-a-side football in an under-8 competition

  • Sam Elliott
  • Shane Pill
Keywords: Children, Australian Football, Competition engineering, Sport participation


Junior Australian Football leagues typically adopt rules and positional arrangements that mimic the adult  version of Australian Football. This involves fielding 18 players per team on a full-sized oval. While such  competition structures are appropriate for adult competition and elite athletes, modifications to field dimensions and number of players may be more appropriate for junior participants. A trial season of  competitively engineered Australian Football was piloted by adopting the Australian Football League's (AFL) 9-a-side concept in an Under-8 competition for the first time. The 9-a-side trial occurred on Friday nights  alongside the established Under 8's 18-a-side competition conducted on Sunday mornings. Participants in this study experienced both competition formats. A qualitative evaluation of the perceptions and experiences of parents, players and coaches of competitive engineering in junior Australian Football was done. The results  indicate that the AFL 9-a-side concept provided an enhanced game experience emerging from (a) a high level of game engagement, (b) the game as an educative context, and (c) an appropriate developmental step before the introduction of players to 18-a-side Australian Football.

Key words: Children; Australian Football; Competition engineering; Sport participation.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069