Statement: SANFL Juniors incident

12 August 2023

The SANFL wishes to advise that it has concluded its investigation into an incident during a National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors Under-13 Division 4 boys match on Sunday August 6.

The incident during the third quarter of the match between Fitzroy and North Haven at Sam Johnson Sportsground, Renown Park, resulted in umpires issuing two blue cards and immediately calling off the match, in accordance with SANFL Juniors rules.

As a result of the detailed investigation into the behaviour of team officials, the following has been resolved:

  • North Haven’s team manager is charged with breaching the SANFL Juniors Code of Conduct for engaging in physical abuse towards a player, which resulted in the first blue card being issued.
  • North Haven’s team manager will be de-registered as an official and receives a lifetime ban from holding any official role in football (i.e. team manager, coach, trainer, committee member). He will also be suspended from attending any SANFL Juniors matches for 12 months.
  • North Haven Football Club is charged under the SANFL Juniors Competition Rules and Regulations. It will receive a $500 fine and be required to undertake a positive role modelling education session for all club officials prior to the 2024 season.
  • It is acknowledged that North Haven Football Club co-operated fully with the investigation.
  • Fitzroy’s coach will receive a reprimand for “aggravated behaviour” towards the North Haven bench after the first blue card offence involving the North Haven team manager. It is acknowledged that the behaviour was in response to the situation that had occurred prior.
  • The Ground Marshall and First Aid Officer from Fitzroy Football Club were commended for their efforts in de-escalating the situation at hand.

SANFL Executive General Manager Football Matt Duldig said today:

“SANFL has zero tolerance for anyone who is in breach of our Code of Conduct at junior matches and it is simply unacceptable to see team officials, who should be role models for young players, behave in this manner.

 In this instance, the severe penalties should serve as a reminder to anyone attending junior matches that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.

 We have a thriving SANFL Juniors competition with over 12,000 players and more than 550 matches each weekend of the home and away season, with the vast majority of people involved in the game doing the right thing.

 As a League, our priority is to protect the wellbeing of young players and umpires, ensuring that junior footy is an enjoyable and quality environment in which the game can be played.

 Significant education and introduction of a number of initiatives over the past few years, including ‘sit down to coach’ rounds and the implementation of five-metre exclusion zones around coaching areas, is having a positive impact on behaviour, both on and off the field.

Now with over 700 SANFL Juniors umpires and the ability to fill umpiring appointments at every one of our 550-plus junior games every week, we are taking decisive action immediately when there is inappropriate behaviour, as demonstrated with this incident.

All of our junior umpires are provided with ongoing training and education to equip them with managing incidents and we have more umpire coaches at games supporting young umpires them than ever before.”

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