Champion netball coach and mother says kids are going soft because of no scores in junior sport

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A champion netball coach has slammed organisers of child’s sport for not keeping score. 

New South Wales Swifts coach Briony Akle says that a lack of scoring in children’s sport is denying kids the opportunity to learn how to lose and handle adversity.

Akle’s sons play soccer in junior competitions, and despite having goals set up on the field, officials don’t keep scores, leaving neither side a winner or loser at the end of the match.

The 2019 Super Netball League winning coach believes this strategy is leaving young athletes deprived of one of the most important aspects of competition. 

‘There’s no disappointment. Everyone is a winner. I just think these kids are not learning disappointment,’ Akle told The Australian.

‘Even at the end-of-season presentation, everyone gets a trophy. Success is not at the forefront. In the end, why have goals? Why not just kick a ball around a field, then?’

Akle’s stance is mirrored by eight-time AFL premiership winning coach Kevin Sheedy, who says learning to lose can help people make their way through important life challenges outside of the sporting sphere. 

‘It can make you stronger for those more difficult times off the field. Losing in sport teaches people to sometimes handle the loss of relationships, health issues or your job,’ Sheedy said.

‘It’s good to understand how to lose. And sometimes your disappointments become your strengths.’

Many junior sporting codes throughout the country including AFL’s Auskick and soccer’s Mini-Roos play without keeping score in their early divisions, with both competitions not scoring matches until the players are over 12-years-old.

There is no ladder or finals matches, with games emphasising fun over scoring while promoting inclusivity and accessibility and building confidence for the young athletes.

Children are being shielded from sadness and disappointment through their learning experiences with the game, which could prevent young stars from developing grit and determination to overcome boundaries and produce their best performances.

Child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg hasn’t seen a legitimate study showcasing the benefits of removing scoring from children’s sport.

He says it’s important for kids to learn that they are not always going to win and be able to deal with defeat.

‘My view is that life is full of ups and downs. We’ve got to build resilience. We’ve got to allow kids to experience adversity,’ he said.

‘The definition of success is to face, overcome and be transformed by adversity.’

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