I am actively opposing the change in Age Groups, and will be pleased to hear from anyone supporting this view. firstname.lastname@example.org
I give below my reasons for opposing the UKA decision to change the Age Groups. Clubs received a letter from UKA, on about 18 December. This letter would not offer “keep the current age groups” as one of the options – even though I know that many clubs had written to UKA stating a preference for this.
If your club supports my view that current Age Groups should be kept (or should at least be offered as an option)
I ask that you do not respond to the UKA letter at the moment. Please let me know of your view, and I will keep you informed of any developments, and perhaps who to “target” with your letter when the time is right.
I organized the clubs opposition to Age Group changes by BAF in 1997 and the ECCA in about 2002 – in both cases a vote was held with 85% supporting the current Age Groups.
The proposal that Age Groups shall be Under 14, 16, 18
In Cross Country and Road this will maintain the current situation (as calculation is will be at the end of the Competition Year rather than at the start) except for the older end of Under 18 and 20 as described below.
In Track & Field the new Age Groups will be a Year out of line with those used in English Schools events.
This will cause particular problems for hurdles, but also throwing weights and event eligibility (ie athletes will be able to do triple jump / hammer / 400m / steeplechase in some competitions but then be deemed too young to do the same event safely in other competitions.). Proposed hurdles / throwing weights / event eligibility are on the UKA website (Competitions). Athletes in School Year 11 will be Under 18s so doing the
100m (female) / 110m hurdles, with the girls doing 400m rather than the 300m which seems a very successful distance for them. Year 7 Girls (currently U13) will do 75m at 76cm. They will not cope with this.
The current system has School Year 7 at the “older” end of their Under 13 Age Group and this is a particular advantage to the sport, as it is at this age that many youngsters come into the sport having had their first opportunity at their new Secondary School. It means that newcomers are competing against similar athletes, not against those who have had a years experience in the sport. It also means that they are competing with the “easier” hurdles and throwing weights of the current Under 13 Age Group.
The Competition Review points out the “advantage” that the new Age Groups will take the “top year” out of the main exam years (ie GCSE and A level). However if they get their wish over the top end of the Under 18 Age Group, one third of athletes – born Sept to Dec - will still have their “top year” in Year 11 and Year 13 so there is no advantage to them. In any case, these exams finish in mid June for most people, after which the athletes are free of all academic pressure. Perhaps a better idea would be to spread out the season more. With Year 12 having AS exams, and their term continuing an extra month, they are in no “easier” a position than Year 11, indeed some would say a worse position with exam pressure.
So I do not feel that the “advantage” claimed by the Competition Review is valid, and I do not feel that changing T&F to Under 14, 16, 18 brings any advantages to overturn the disadvantage of being a year out of step with English Schools Age Groups.
The proposal that the older end of the Under 18 Age Group should be 31 December.
This was a late change to the document, and is clearly there to help selection of teams for International Under 18 Competition – of which there is relatively little, and even less in Cross Country, which the new rule will also apply to. To benefit this minority of cases, one third of athletes in School Year 12 (Lower Sixth to some readers) will be moved into the Age Group above for all disciplines.
The Under 18 T&F Championships are in August, so I assume will not be a Trial for any European / World Youth event. Under 18 teams will presumably be picked after the Under 20 Championships in June.
So even less benefit from making the Under 18 qualification date 31 December.
I suggest that the disadvantage to one third of a Year Group far outweigh any advantage to National selection processes.
The proposal that the older end of the Under 20 Age Group should be 31 December as IAAF Rules.
It already is for T&F, and I can accept it. But I do think that the current UKA Rules for Under 20 Cross Country and Road have much to commend them. In the last Age Group “campaign” over ECCA Age Groups, there was a big majority of clubs (over 80%) in favour of using the current UKA Under 20 rule as opposed to the IAAF rule for Cross Country. Of course if the qualifying date for Cross Country is to be 31 Aug at the end of the Competition Year this Age Group would need to be called Under 21 to keep parity with the current situation.
Mainly the change has been viewed from the Track and Field position, but it will apply to cross country as well.
This will mean
* the loss of the current UKA Under 20 definition (as used at the National, Area Champs, Mansfield Relays)
leading to a narrower Under 20 Age Band,
* runners becoming Seniors 1 or 2 years earlier,
* Under 18 and Under 20 athletes moving up an Age Group at 1 Jan (affecting Leagues split both sides of 1 Jan)
* the Under 18 National and Area Champs having a narrower Age Band than at present hence fewer runners,
* all trophies needing replacing / reengraving
I feel the changes are being proposed to help selection of teams for International Under 18 and 20 Competition.
Under the current Age Groups I suggest the UK already does very well in producing talented athletes in these Age Groups, both recent Juniors and current Under 18s. There is no need to change, when the change will have such adverse effects on general junior athletics. I note some of the people who have contacted me opposing the new Age Groups are coaches with a record of producing leading athletes in the Under 18 / 20 Age Groups.
I can see no way that the new Age Groups will improve recruitment, retention or standards in young athletes.
If they have any effect, I think it will be to hinder recruitment.
They will certainly not be “clearer” to those within or outside the sport. To take UKA Age Groups out of step with Schools Age Groups for T&F will be most confusing and disruptive.
If you have any questions please contact me,