The West

Even: Junior football is better without scoring.

WA's junior football guidelines banning scoring, finals and ladders have contributed to record participation rates and better- behaved footballers, according to the WA Football Commission.

It says the AFL's move to introduce scoring bans for older children shows WA's football development is "ahead of the curve".

Scoring, finals, player awards and ladders are not used in WA junior football until after age 13. But this will be lowered to 12 this year in a trial ahead of Year 7s moving to high school campuses.

In its new junior football match guide, the AFL recommends Victorian junior leagues expand a scoring ban for under-8s and under-9s to include under-10s.

It says it does not want to "put kids in adult environments too early. That includes large grounds, congested play, unnecessary physicality and an over-emphasis on winning when skill development is more important".

WAFC general manager of game development Warren Nel said removing scores and recognition from junior games allowed kids to play football in a fun-filled, positive environment.

"We are taking the heat out of winning at all costs," he said.

"We believe the way we've structured the game in WA is nation-leading. When they turn 13 they are able to play more competitively, their intellectual capability to understand the difference between winning and losing changes."

Mr Nel said WA football's record participation rates, which increased by 96,000 players in the past decade, were partly because of the junior guidelines.

Football participation in WA is tipped to reach about 172,000 this year, up from 160,000 last year.

Curtin University psychology researcher David Keatley said though there was merit in removing points systems, it was important to train children to cope with victory and loss.

"Even some high-level professionals can't deal with loss, because training is missing out a crucial element," he said.

WA soccer body Football West keeps score from under-9s up.

The West Australian

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