Dear WPSA Community,

Immediately after AYC in January, WPA commenced its selection process for the establishment of 16 & Under squads in anticipation of the World Championships and Pan Pacs. Several SA players were included in the initial list based on performances at the AYC WPA gave us very late notice that they had decided to make this a selection event despite being adamant to the contrary for months previous.

In February we were sent a list of players initially included in the squads of 50. WPA asked for strict confidentiality. Some of the AYC mentioned players were not mentioned so we spoke with our coaches and made representations to WPA for additional players to be included. These were acknowledged by WPA with the comment that “no promises” would be made about inclusion. We also provided direct access to our coaches to the National selectors. The players that were included were notified by WPA. Please note that WPA selects squads; States can propose and advocate but do not have any rights to insist on a player being selected.

On 16th March with COVID 19 in full swing, WPA announced that all programs would be suspended. The State Championships scheduled for Adelaide in May were cancelled. These would have provided a new opportunity to impress selectors and also allow players returning from injury to stake their claim. This was to be the final selection event.  As you know, WPSA stopped all competitions and training from 16th March due to COVID 19. We only resumed limited squad training again in July.

WPA continued to work on a new method of selecting athletes for National squads (aiming to be fairer and include the views of States and Clubs) on the assumption we could have camps in 2020. We continued, with the support of the coaches, to feed names of players into the system under the full knowledge that planning was uncertain during the COVID 19 lockdowns and border closures.

In June WPA outlined a new approach to National squad selection which led to the “Launch to LA Camps”. In July WPSA was notified that athletes previously selected would be considered for inclusion in the squads. It opened the opportunity for other athletes to be considered. WPA suggested that Training Camps be conducted in each State and that Athletes who fulfil the Elite Selection Criteria be submitted for consideration.

As COVID restricted our capacity to train, we were unable to hold the suggested camps. The suggestion on the WPA website that SA held these camps was not correct and we have made WPA aware of this error.

In the end, selection for the squads is a matter for WPA. The coaching panel from WPA decides, against its own criteria, who will be selected. We continue to make representation to WPA that additional SA athletes be considered for inclusion in the squads. We include coaches in these discussions. Our efforts have led to the inclusion of athletes in the virtual camp.

Whilst we have not received any official notice, we are doubtful that any on site camps will be held in 2020. WPA has informed us that, should these happen, there is a limit of 100 athletes. Other States, WA and Vic, are suggesting that they cannot and will not support these camps as it will disadvantage their athletes.

The next scheduled competition is the AYC which is also in doubt. This week we received notification from WPA that a decision about holding or postponing the AYC will be made on the 13th October. WPA is working hard to make these happen, COVID 19 safe and inclusive of all States but government policies will be the most significant influence on this decision.

We appreciate that some athletes believe they have not been given a proper opportunity to stake their claim to a spot in these squads. We have done our best in a very trying and uncertain environment.

Whilst we continue to advocate for players to be included in the squads announced so far, we will focus on how we can improve this process for our players. As a community we must also recognise that we are trying to anticipate returning to a pre COVID 19 world which is hard to predict. Our processes going forward are:

  1. We will shortly announce the squad coaches for all aged groups. These are important positions for WPSA so we ask for the community to given them support and as outlined below, we will invest in them.
  2. We are working with coaches to improve their qualifications through the WPA accreditation process as well as additional training.
  3. WPA is working with all States to help establish a clear criteria for selection including daily training environments. States are sharing their methods and plans which helps a small State like SA.
  4. We will communicate better with the players, parents and Clubs about our squads, their training and any selection criteria from WPA
  5. We welcome your input.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Cleary                                        Chris Luz-Raymond

President                                             Executive Officer