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NZSS Selection Eligibility

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 27 April 2016, 7:38 AM  
ONZ are including a more detailed explanation for the change in the next Compass Point newsletter.

Show Profile  DMjunior Posted: 28 April 2016, 1:55 AM  
Will this include some sort of consultation with the NZ O Public? Just from what I hear from others its not just me, Matt G, Martin & Hamish that think its a little hard to stomach?

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 28 April 2016, 5:42 PM  
Posted here:

Show Profile  Martin Posted: 28 April 2016, 7:17 PM  
The response sets out the rationale as to why but fails to make any mention of the how - it's the process of how this change has come about that there's an issue with.

There's been (1) no communication and consultation with clubs prior to this change and (2) it's in direct contradiction with the selection policy. That policy was updated in December 2014 after significant consultation, is it really out of date? It's a large step going from an HP plan to changing the selection criteria.

Show Profile  tommyhayes Posted: 30 April 2016, 11:13 AM  
I think a serious critical evaluation of the pros and cons of this selection change in question needs to be undertaken.

I do definitely agree with the wider idea of promoting wider development among young orienteers in NZ by sending a larger contingent to the Australian Schools Champs, however I think this way of providing it is inefficient and the cons far outweigh the pros.

Each year only a few athletes are at a high enough level to compete at both JWOC and the Australian Schools, and they are more than likely going to be members of the senior teams. If we exclude these athletes from selection, we are only opening the door to a couple more athletes, who have quite likely already travelled to Australia as members of the junior teams, so we are not "providing more athletes with their first taste of international competition". A far better way would be sending a whole development team, which will give far more athletes on the cusp of selection an opportunity to compete overseas.

Exclusion of JWOC athletes with the aim of making it easier for athletes on the cusp of selection to be selected will likely allow them to train less, as there is less pressure to make the team competing against the top runners. In my own personal experience, a far greater amount of orienteering development occurs in the many months before, competing with each other in NZ to make the team in the first place, than in the few short weeks actually spent in Australia

Allowing the JWOC athletes to compete in the NZ Secondary Schools team also has the huge benefit of providing both the rest of the team with leadership figures within the team, who can draw on their experience to help and inspire their younger teammates. Meanwhile, this will provide the JWOC athletes to develop their personal leadership skills, and other important qualities that being a senior member of a team provides, such as the mental skills to perform well during big races, in a slightly less daunting environment than the Junior World Champs. It is also important for young people to feel as if they are part of their cohort, and making the Senior NZ Secondary Schools team in any sport is an important achievement while at school. Exclusion from selection will not only deny them this opportunity, but also remove them from associating and competing with young people their own age, an important opportunity for personal development. Related to this point is the fact that schools, and tertiary institutions place a lot of value on being a member of teams such as these, and the skills that come with it, in selection decisions they make.

A couple of issues that have already been touched on but I wholeheartedly agree with are that the NZ Schools team should as ONZ claim in their own selection policy be a team which is likely to produce the most successful results at the competition for which athletes are being selected. The NZ Schools team should be without question, the best possible schools athletes in NZ, and all athletes at school, also pursuant to the ONZ Selection Policy, have a right to be selected. The athlete should have a right to decide whether or not they want to be a member of the team and focus on the Australian Schools Champs.

With regard to the ONZ explanation, if the process was undertaken with "thorough consultation" with members of the public, it seems strange that is came as such a surprise to those who it affects the most. It would be nice if some more effective consultation had taken place.

It also states that the "Australian Schools Championship has been recognised as a development, not elite junior competition" which I think underlines the crux of the matter - that ONZ has clearly underestimated the importance of these races to a large number of the Junior Elite athletes in New Zealand. By going on to claim that the perceived lower quality of these races sees athletes "competing well below their personal bests" also seems to be a fact pulled from thin air, and seems to insult all the performances of the members of the schools teams. I certainly believed I strived to perform to my personal best every time I competed for the NZ Schools Team, and I think that any school age athlete, whether they have competed at JWOC or not, aspires greatly to be a member of the NZ Schools Team and race their best for their country. I do have to wonder what Orienteering Australia thinks about ONZ's attitude towards these races, especially given that we are invited by them to compete with them.

This change is being hailed by ONZ as a "success and celebration of these athletes’ transition from schools champions to international junior elites" however I think this undermines a widely held belief that one shouldn't be thrust straight into the top level of competition, and that it is important a strong base should be built first, both physically and mentally. This runs in contrast to one of the points mentioned in discussion, that competing at both competitions may cause young athletes to train harder than their bodies can handle. By pushing young athletes solely into Elite level orienteering, it risks them training far harder, and being vulnerable to all the stresses of high performance sport, at a young age. By being a senior member of the Schools team (as opposed to a junior member of the JWOC team), it will encourage development both personally in a leadership capacity, building the mental skills to perform well during big races in a slightly less daunting environment than the Junior World Champs.

It is sad that ONZ have blindly stated that they will not being withdrawing the selection notice, given that it contradicts not only the ONZ Selection Policy in multiple places, but is also clearly in contradiction to the opinions of many of the orienteers that ONZ strives to serve, especially those that it affects the most.

Show Profile  rob.g Posted: 30 April 2016, 1:32 PM  
Really well worded Tommy, and I couldn't agree more.
To have the JWOC stars in the school team is a real plus for the reasons you have suggested.
Most years there will only be one or two at best, but last year we had 4 which was exceptional.
The process ONZ has come up with here is very flawed.

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 30 April 2016, 7:35 PM

Show Profile  Hamish Posted: 1 May 2016, 9:17 AM  
So where are all the replies from the people supporting this change ? I personally have found only one person in favour of the change and they were particularly unconvincing. If my kids were still at this stage I wouldn't want to live in this house. I imagine the same could be said for 99%(maybe 100%) of all the kids who have been selected for NZSS and JWOC in the same year ?
Come ONZ, see sense.

Show Profile  inghamma Posted: 1 May 2016, 3:15 PM  
I am quite prepared to front up and admit that this was outlined in the High Performance Plan which was agreed to by ONZ last year and was posted on the ONZ website. This states:

"Apart from high level domestic competition it is important that the top athletes at all levels of the squad system have exposure to international competition. This happens already for the Junior levels in the form of competing in the Australian Schools Championships. This arrangement is well locked in and should remain a focus for the top school athletes. At the next levels up (U23 and Senior Squads) it is important that Pinestars-Bushrangers Test Matches be re-established on a regular basis. However, it needs to be recognized that both of these competitions provide opportunity for giving athletes their first taste of international competition. It is strongly recommended therefore that selection of these teams takes place with this in mind and in particular
* athletes selected for JWOC in that year should not be selected for the Schools team at the Australian Schools Championships
* selection of teams for Test Matches takes into account the developmental aspect and is not based solely on performance."

This was therefore put out in the HP plan, with rationale, as a recommendation. As it appears to have taken people by surprise I can only summize that no-one reads (or are selective about what they read) on the website. It is also worth considering that it was requested that the HP plan outline a clear development pathway. This was done in the form of a "stair" diagram in which JWOC was placed on a considerably higher level that the Australian Schools Champs. In that context I still would argue that an athlete who has been selected for JWOC has reached the stage where their sights should be set higher than on the Schools team, and that the next developmental step is in the Pinestars. This, as has been pointed out, acts to remove the bottleneck that prevents the next tier of juniors from getting exposure to international competition at the Schools champs. They will then be better prepared for their next step up, to JWOC. The fact. as has been pointed out, that several JWOC team members have recently declined selction in the Schools team shows that at least some of the athletes concerned recognize this. Note that it is NOT intended that JWOC athletes be excluded from NZ-Australia School Test Matches.

The discussion, however, also parallels another one which has concerned the possible introduction of a 17-20E grade at the Oceania and NZ Champs. A strong argument that has been raised agianst this is that it disadvantages those M/W18's who are just below the top level and would be forced into a higher grade. The concern for keeping this group interested and developing is important. However, these are in many cases likely to be the same people who previously have effectively been "shut-out" of the Schools team by the inclusion in it of JWOC athletes. The change in selection criterion is therefore, again, aimed at retention and development at the next level down.

In conclusion, I have raised the issue several times that I think the Selection Policy is badly written and, in some ways, contradictory. The fact that excluding JWOC athletes from the Schools team is just one example of this. So, yes, it does need rewriting.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 1 May 2016, 3:46 PM  
This is now getting interesting.

Malcolm - I will challenge you about the Selection Policy. To say it is poorly worded and out-of-date is something you are saying in the context of your own plans/vision.

The Selection Policy was one of the most heavily consulted on documents around. We had significant feedback about issues with the previous policy - timing, notices, trials and importantly appeals. Not one piece of feedback (out of literally hundreds) concerned picking what some could argue is B-grade teams simply to give people development opportunities.

There has been times in the past where I as President have used a veto on teams and sent them back to the Selection Panel because they contradict our Selection Policy. For example, in one instance the Selectors were trying to not pick a Junior for a particular Senior race because it would then impact on the next competition that they considered more important. In this instance the Policy clearly is - to paraphrase - "to pick the best team for that actual competition". Saving oneself actually falls onto the athletes themselves.

We have to take a bigger look at providing development opportunities. If it is about having more people compete - then how about arranging with Orienteering Australia to have a second NZ team? Restricting representation simply to give someone else a go is a pretty major call and one that frankly had absolutely no comments made about during the selection policy update process.

Now I'm not saying that the Selection Policy is perfect, but it was a document that went through two stages of consultation and did have significant engagement. It fixed a number of issues and now it is simply a matter of whether or not process is being followed in accordance with a Policy.

Any non-selection of any team member would never in my opinion pass a test in an Appeal Process because the Notice that excludes people is in direct contradiction to our Selection Policy's primary goals.

Show Profile  comatose Posted: 1 May 2016, 4:06 PM  
So, should someone who has been selected for WOC still be eligible for JWOC?

By the arguments presented for the new schools selection policy, their sights should be firmly set on further WOC selection only, as they have moved beyond JWOC developmentally.

Show Profile  Tane Cambridge Posted: 2 May 2016, 6:39 AM  
There is a crap load of words in this thread, but in essence what is the point of having rules, criteria, policy and processes if they are not followed? If you want to change the selection policy whats wrong with following the proper process to do so and not just make them up as they go? then its fair for everyone and this discussion goes on before any decisions are made.

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 2 May 2016, 7:38 AM  
Edited 2/05/2016

Subsequent to publication it has come to my attention that the proposal to exclude JWOC runners from the Schools Team was actually included as a recommendation as part of the High Performance Plan. This recommendation can be found in part six of the plan, An Event Structure for High Performance, whereas the rationale discussed by the Board in their explanation, including the quote and diagram, is found in part three of the plan, Event Hierachy. Therefore I would like to apologise for saying the policy was not explicitly included in the plan, this is clearly factually incorrect and I should’ve read the plan more thoroughly.

However, I stand by my comments that the arguments contained within the plan itself are insufficient to justify the change in policy, particularly in regards to how it contravenes existing selection policy. Recommendations proposed by the plan must be looked at in the context of which the plan was written, and general support for the plan as a whole does not necessarily translate to support for this particular change in policy.

Show Profile  tommyhayes Posted: 2 May 2016, 8:05 AM  
I have read the High Performance Plan, and believe that on the whole it is a great scheme, promising for NZ orienteering, and which I agree with the large majority of the time. I am not trying to criticize this document in itself and am very appreciative of your efforts Malcolm. What I object to is the heavy handed manner in which this selection change has been imposed by ONZ. I agree that it is mentioned in the High Performance Plan, however it is a large jump from a mere ‘recommendation’ in the High Performance Plan to a governing notice, and further consultation should have been done in the process of making this jump. I would like to think of these discussions as effective consultation, and hope that ONZ is taking on board some of the points made here.

As such, I think that the rationale provided is quite insufficient, and I think it must be reconsidered. The bottle neck mentioned will not be opened by removing the small minority who are talented enough to be selected for both teams in question. As I have stated previously, this is an inefficient way of facilitating development.

With reference to the stair diagram, if JWOC is many tiers above the Australian Schools Champs, then, if I can count correctly, WOC is an even greater number of steps above JWOC. Should we exclude WOC team members from JWOC? Last year I was able to learn a lot from Tim Robertson, the most senior member of the team, and he was a great inspiration to the whole team. I am certain the same thing occurs in the Schools team also. It is needless to say how much ONZ has underestimated the importance of this competition to many of the younger elite and junior athletes in NZ.

We must also remember that the minority who would be able to be selected in both teams are still young, and competing at JWOC while this age is often viewed as a pathway for development instead of focusing on it as being the be all and end all of one’s orienteering career. Being a senior in the schools’ team is equally crucial for this development.

And finally, it is constantly brought up that athletes have previously declined selection for the Schools team, however I think that many other arguably more important personal factors influence this decision other than ‘allowing other athletes a chance to be selected’. I think maybe actually consulting the athletes to whom the selection change is most pertinent, rather than simply making a judgement based on what it seems on the surface, would have been more effective and sensible. Once again I must reinforce how important it is that the athletes themselves can make the decisions.

I also tend to agree with Simon in the fact that the Selection Policy as it is seems to be on the whole a well thought out document. NZ Teams should be selected as the best team possible, and anyone that fits the criteria should be eligible.

Maybe the fact that it clashes with the new Selection Notice shows that the Selection Notice itself should be rethought.

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 2 May 2016, 3:13 PM  
Enough whinging.

Malcolm has made some pretty big changes to elite orienteering in NZ to create a culture focused on developing youth and really pushing international high performance. Generally this has worked in favour of the JWOC team/young elites.

So, why not give a few more people a bit of a sniff around the fringes every now and then? Aussie Schools for a JWOC team member is just a chance to puff their chest out and pound an orange course.

Just go over there and run elites, and have a holiday during the middle of the week when the crappy schools events are on like everyone else.

And stop being so fucking reasonable. This is not an ONZ endorsed forum. Maybe go over there if you want to talk about "facilitated development", otherwise we'll have David Stewart back in here again speaking his new language ;-)

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