SEQ Participation Pathway Changes for 2023
As per the memo from AFL Queensland outlined below, there are participation pathway changes coming into effect in 2023. Your Committee will be working closely with AFL Queensland to implement these changes in our club.

If you have any questions regarding the 2023 pathway changes please don't hesitate to contact us.
 
Over the last 12 months, AFL Queensland has been in constant communication with all SEQ clubs relating to a review of their youth participation pathways. The review was implemented on the back of significant participant growth, but moreover, some gaps that were emerging in relation to retention rates and the transition of youth players into senior football.

In order to ensure the pathways are effective, AFL Queensland undertook a number of analytical projects, with the outcome data then shared with Clubs in order for them to provide informed feedback for consideration for any recommended changes.

In conjunction with the data and analysis completed during this time, the feedback received has significantly helped shape the outcomes listed below, all of which they believe will have a positive impact on player transition and retention rates moving forward.
In recognizing that any change has its challenges, AFL Queensland's intent is to create stability and consistency across its football network, particularly in relation to age groups. As such, they believe the new two-year odd age groups are sustainable long-term.

While the current female pathway will remain the same, AFL Queensland will continually monitor the upper-age youth pathway to ensure their structure is providing opportunities for aspirational QAFLW / AFLW players.

A high-level overview of the changes and supporting rationale have been provided below. 
 

Outcomes and Changes commencing in 2023

1. Youth Mixed/Boys Age Groups changed to U13.5/U15.5/U17.5 (was U12.5/U14.5/U16.5)

  • Aligns the transition point to senior football to when players have:

    • completed their high school education, and

    • become adults (18 years of age)

  • Consistent 2-year age group brackets

    • Club sustainability – allows clubs to build a full pathway from junior to senior football (27% of clubs currently do not have an U12 team)

    • Reduction in player movement – more clubs with a full pathway reduces the number of players that are forced to change clubs

    • ‘Like for like’ competitions – the greater the number of teams and the enhanced capability of having players of similar ability competing against each other, thus enhancing the match day experience, and limiting travel. Lower divisions naturally have a much higher participation rate of ‘bottom aged’ players (between 70-75% in D4 in 2021)

    • Important for player development – limiting bad habits etc.

 

2. Sunshine Coast & Northern Rivers Footy4Fun Mixed Age Groups changed to U9.5/U11.5 to align to the Youth Age Groups (was U8.5/U10.5), and an increase in the top age of Superstars eligible players to 8.5

  • Maintains the 2-year age group brackets – too big of a gap between U10.5 and U13.5

  • Allows Northern Rivers to have a localised U11.5 competition played on Sundays that aligns to their other teams in both the Footy4Fun and Youth competitions

  • Allows an 8-year-old to choose whether they want to participate in Superstars (non-contact) or U9.5 (modified contact) competitions

 

3. QFA Colts competition disbanded, with the opportunity for adults to select where to play based on what best suits their individual needs (skill level, day/time of matches etc.)

  • An increase of the Youth Age groups to U17.5 captures all bottom age players in the current U8.5 competition

  • There are multiple levels of senior football available that cater to adults of varied skill level, time commitments, availability etc.

  • Increasingly difficult for Clubs to find enough players specific to this age cohort to fill a whole team (currently only 10 teams in this competition and has been declining in recent years)

 

4. QAFL Colts competition to become an U19 talent development competition that forms part of the talent pathway

  • Allows aspirational QAFL senior players the opportunity to develop in state league club environment

  • Serve as the transition point for aspirational players so that they do not need to move clubs at an earlier age group

  • QAFL Clubs need to be strategic in establishing their U19 list, as lists will be required to be submitted at the start of a season and capped at 30 age eligible players

    • U17.5 players can still play up if required (outside of list of 30)

    • List management rules to be developed in conjunction with Clubs

 

5. Capping of U17.5 teams

  • All Clubs will be capped at a maximum of 2 x U17.5 teams to assist with the transition of players to senior football

AFLQ will work with clubs where retaining existing players is impacted (currently three clubs have 3 x U16.5 teams)