Stop the discrimination against junior B grade NRL players under RLI jurisdiction.

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Our local club have just announced (6 weeks out of finals) that our junior teams Under12-Under17's in B- Grade (development) division will no longer (effective immediately) participate in what has always been a standard finals series. This in effect means that where traditionally the top 4 teams in the grade battle it out over two-three weekends to secure the final, our development division players will now compete in a round robin/Gala event between the top 2 teams in the grade. The same is not the case for A-Grade Under12-Under17 teams, the players of which get to enjoy the end of season finale while developing invaluable life skills such as thriving under pressure and sportsmanship at a finals level.

To rob B-Grade(development) teams of this is not only discriminatory but sends a clear message to our developing players that they are not considered as important, and that their effort is not worthy of the same opportunities or accolades. The decision to implement these changes will result in less children/families returning to the sport next season, and create division among players, and the junior RLI (Rugby League Ipswich) community. This decision (which was at no point discussed with the broader junior community will impact on the development and sustainability of up and coming players, many of which, despite their skills and ability will never have the opportunity to play for an A-Grade team at a club level as while there are undoubtedly some amazingly talented players many spots are filled based on who the coach wants/knows and who was there last year, making it difficult at a club level to advance to A-Grade level.

As a parent of a child/children in a development team and a supporter of the game and local clubs for a number of years I am disappointed in a number of aspects of this change. Firstly this sends a clear message to children in B-grade teams that the club and RLI treat them differently; that somehow their effort, sweat and sportsmanship is second rate, to their mate, a kid that might be more confident but has terrible sportsmanship and wants all the glory regardless of the cost to the team. Secondly it steals from them the lesson that life is competitive. Children need to learn how to be gracious winners, and losers. A-Grade players are gaining invaluable skills for thriving and surviving in the real world by working through the emotions that come with grand final football that will put them ahead in their adult life. Our development team children should have a right to experience and thrive from this too. Thirdly in the greater Ipswich region (and in most regions I imagine) our development divisons are the largest financially contributing community. Many clubs have more than 1 B-division team. As parents/guardians of these children we pay the exact same amount in insurance, club and match fees as A-Grade players for what will now be a reduced season. Despite being the largest contributing community, surely this means our fees should be substantially reduced. We have not been consulted on these changes, indeed on our own clubs social media pages we are not even allowed to question these changes in the public forum, nor have we been reimbursed (not that any financial amount could retract the feelings of inadequacy our children must feel knowing that they don't get a final but A-Grade players do).

As part of the junior rugby league community in Ipswich I would like the RLI board to reconsider its broad reaching and ill consulted decision to change how the B-Grade (developing division) end of season plays out. I am requesting that either the traditional end of season final is provided for all teams including developing division teams Under12 - Under17, or alternatively that all finals inclusive of A division teams Under12- Under17 occur as a Gala event between the top 1&2 teams of that particular age group.

Please take the time to sign and share this petition as it affects all clubs in the greater Ipswich region.



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