Melbourne is a city that hosts a lot of major sports events, so there is great enthusiasm in both watching and participating. That love for sports gets seeded very early on in Australia. Next to the normal sports hour in school, there are after school sport activities, sports days and inter school sports – competitions against other schools.
In the almost two years that we lived here, Kai has qualified for some of the school teams, so we got to see what the competition is like. Here is our experience.
If you qualify for the school team you compete against other schools in the area. The first schools that you meet are from your own district, where you compete against about eight schools. The best one or two of those teams (or individuals) then qualify for the next event on division level, then to regional until you finally make it to state level.
These are the four different competition levels in Victoria:
- district: there are about 8 schools per district – (Dalem* = sub-area)
- division: there are 4-5 districts per division – (Reeshof* = area)
- region: there are 5 divisions per region – (Tilburg* = city)
- state: there are 8 regions – (Noord-Brabant*= State Province)
* as an example/comparison I used the Dutch city Tilburg
The competitions all take place during school hours and each level take up to a whole school day. So they can take up 1 to 5 school days per sport, that children are missing out on if they qualify for the events. A lot of ‘missing out of school’ time is allowed for the happy few.
Qualification – Primary school
At Luka’s primary school there are inter school competitions in swimming, tennis, cross country, athletics and various team sports.
For the swimming, tennis and team sports there are separate try outs that you can choose to participate in. These are not activities for the whole school.
The athletics is a fun all day event. They get to try out all the different elements of athletics individually, but also compete together in a group as part of the different houses. So even the less athletics children can still be a winner. The effort of the children and maybe even more so the cheering for each other were quite impressive to me. The best two boys and girls per discipline get part of the school team.
The cross country is a fun run, an event of about one hour which is both a big fundraising event as well as the selection for the cross country team. The 10 best boys and girls per age group continue to district level.
Last year Kai qualified to represent Essex Heights in the district swimming. The school got smashed by the private schools, most of them have swimming pools at school and get to practice a lot more.
Public primary school have a disadvantage here, as many private schools have more facilities in sports, like their own swimming pool. Then there are also public primary schools that focus on specific sports, like Kai’s school.
At Kai’s current school ( as they only had 12 children in grade 5/6) they all went to the district athletics, which turned out to be an adventure in a whole different way that involved socks and lost objects.
Kai made it into two division competitions, athletics and tennis.
In athletics Kai got second with long jump in the 10 and under age group at the district level, so he got to go on to the division. This athletics day was almost like a reunion. He was there with half of his class (5 of the 12 qualified), met up with friends from his old school and saw familiar faces from tennis tournaments.
With an impressive 3.16m long-jump he did not make it into the regional, the next round. I guess you just can not be prepared for a -head shorter nine year old- who jumps a meter further.
Since he goes to a specialized tennis school his school skipped the district level in tennis and got straight into district. As they only have four grade six students, they all made it into the division for tennis immediately.
The division tennis competition was hosted by Kai’s school and parents were invited. There were 16 kids expected, however only 11 turned up, 6 girls and 5 boys. They played a round robin, which means that all players got to play each other and they played one set to 6 game points. At the end the player with the most wins and/or the highest game points is the winner. The best one or two players then go on the regional level.
Kai played really strong tennis in the division and ended second, so he might have to play in Regional level (we are waiting to hear if 1 or 2 players get through to the next round). No privilege anymore, but an earned achievement! To be continued…
Victoria State team
It does not stop at Regional Level. For the extremely talented kids it is possible to try out for the School Sport Victoria (SSV) Team Vic State team. They organize interstate events in different sports and even give primary school the opportunity to participate in higher levels of sporting competition against students from other Australian States and Territories.
For primary school students in tennis this is the Bruce Cup. The necessary qualifications are high, only the top 30 girls and the top 30 boys based on Australia rankings will be invited to try out and 8 girls and 8 boys can get into the team. Last year one of Kai’s class class mates qualified and he got to be part part of the Victoria team.
As you can see, there are many sport events and enough opportunities to stay out of school, but what a great experience!