GB Youth Women's teams 2017-18
Every year, the GB Junior coaching and management team meet to review progress and plan the next cycle. This year we spent a significant amount of time discussing the challenges we face supporting the two women’s teams. The recurring fundamental problem is that not enough players are trying out for the teams. So we have decided to make some changes that we hope will increase and improve the opportunities for young women wanting to play competitive ultimate.
The number of players trying out for the two GB Junior women’s teams has been really low for the last two years; and certainly lower than the number of eligible players.
This has led to the teams being selected from a small group of players, and often including players that are relatively new to the sport. International youth ultimate tournaments run over 5-6 days of competition with teams playing 2 games per day, often in high temperatures. These are physically demanding conditions. We are concerned that players are being thrown into this environment without sufficient experience and training.
The cycle of EUF and WFDF events mean that the teams compete every year, leading some players to lose interest (*1) and exacerbating the high costs of participation (*2). We have been lobbying EUF for several years about this issue, and are happy to see some EUF proposals to change the cycle in the U17 age group.
(*1) Increasingly we have seen young players competing for GB teams for several years in a row with little opportunity for competition in the intervening 12 months. This has led to a decrease in the perceived value of representing GB for some of those players. Players dropping out of the sport or the GB teams as a result of being “bored of playing GB” is cause for concern, but we are also concerned about players who feel this way but continue to play out of a sense of duty or habit.
(*2) Costs vary from year to year depending on the location of the event, but in round numbers, each GB youth team player (or their family) is likely to spend approx £1000 in order to attend EYUC or WJUC. We believe we can and should look to provide a more rounded ultimate-playing experience that is better value, more suited to the needs of the players, and can be made available to a bigger group of players.
UKU Junior Women's Regional Training Squads
In 2017-2018 the GB Junior Women’s coaching and management team will be coordinating a number of regular, regional skills days for female junior players from ages 13-19. They want to invest time and resources into enabling more young women to play more ultimate.
The idea behind these skills days is to give young women an opportunity to play more ultimate, meet others in their region and support each other to improve skills, knowledge and, for some, help to boost their confidence. GB and local coaches, as well as experienced players, will be on-hand to lead and support the sessions, which will be designed to benefit players across the age-range and with differing levels of skills and experience. In addition to working on skills and technique we will also be looking to help players learn and think about hydration, nutrition and the training they do away from the sessions.
This is a great opportunity for junior women to come together and support each other in order to increase the player base within the country and raise the bar on women’s ultimate in the UK.
Alongside these changes we will be running one or two school holiday training camps for the players that would like to experience a few days away from home in a setting that will provide some of the playing-experiences as well as fun and camaraderie that is to be found in a week-long international competition. We expect to publish more details on these training camps in the New Year.
Why are these changes directed towards the female teams?
Primarily, the problems we hope will be addressed by these changes are not affecting the male teams in the same way. Hopefully the regional training squads will be so successful that we end up with a similar structure for all four squads. In the meantime, we have limited resources (especially people) and capacity to do something like this. In the circumstances it seems sensible to prioritise the effort towards the women’s divisions.
Which teams will enter and play EYUC 2017?
We have had some long and difficult discussions about whether these two teams should take a year off in 2017.
That decision will be reviewed when the coaches have seen the number of eligible players that are attending the regional training sessions, and are available for EYUC 2017.
We hope that the change in approach to training will cause an increase in numbers so that we send one or two teams. However, one reason for bringing all the players together to train as a single group is to allow the U17 players to play in the U20 team if there is only one team.
We will be sending a GB U20 Women’s team to WJUC 2018 in Canada and will open up eligibility to that team for players that are U17.
We currently plan to send both GB U17 Women’s and GB U20 Women’s teams to EYUC 2019.
We will continue to review the longer term question of whether we want the U20 teams (Open and Women’s teams) to compete every year as the international cycle continues to require. Assuming that we do enter all four squads to EYUC 2019 we are likely to make some alternative arrangements to limit the number of consecutive years that any individual player competes for a GB youth team.
Can I help?
Yes please! We need:
Please provide basic contact and reference details using the GB Juniors application form.
Should this really be part of the GB Programme? Isn’t it a club thing?
Right now we don’t have clubs with enough young players to do this on their own. Setting up a youth section is a big step that many clubs are still unable to take. By giving the project a national/regional structure UKU is looking to provide a kind of bridge between the current situation and a point in the future where we have lots more clubs for junior players. At the same time it will also provide an introductory out-of-school playing opportunity that we can advertise to UKU-affiliated schools that are not directly connected to our community.
Of course, there are several clubs and groups around the UK that do have young players and in some cases a junior team. Naturally we hope and expect that those clubs will be closely involved.
What are the regions?
At first, we will adjust the regions/training venues depending on demand, the people that are available to help, and availability of venues. Players will be able to attend training in multiple regions if they want to although it is likely dates will clash sometimes. Over the longer term we expect the regions may become more fixed.