LIFE Saving Victoria’s junior competition season will go ahead this summer but in a minimised format.
The carnival will see under-13 and under-12 divisions compete, however younger ages, beginning at under-7, will not. The decision was made to ensure the carnival can be held in accordance with the 1000-person outdoor events COVID-19 restrictions cap.
Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club youth development director Sam Hume said the minimised format aimed to maintain older junior age groups’ participation, who would then transition to a 14-17 year old youth program.
“It will support those older age groups and get them across to the youth program … the younger age groups have a bit more time to make up for any lost time,” Mr Hume said. “It (1000 people) sounds like a lot, but you would exceed that pretty easy at a normal surf carnival.”
Torquay Surf Life Saving Club director Matt Henderson echoed the thoughts of Hume, highlighting the importance of not losing touch with competitors as they enter 14-17 years, a high drop-out zone.
“That’s just a reflection of how important it is to keep those age groups engaged and keep them progressing through to the SRC (Surf Rescue Certificate) and becoming life savers,” Mr Henderson said.
While the state-level carnival will be reduced too, Life Saving Victoria is encouraging local clubs to combine to host their own carnivals to give younger age-groups the opportunity to compete.
Torquay, Ocean Grove, Jan Juc and Lorne surf life saving clubs hosted competitions throughout December with the possibility for more.
“From the younger kids’ perspective, there will be some that are disappointed, but I think on the whole it’s not a bad thing necessarily,” Mr Henderson said.
“It gives them the opportunity to have a relaxed season, develop their skills and have fun.
“We’re all happy that we do have some LSV carnivals to look forward to … but it’s also great to offer the less formal carnivals for our younger kids – it gives us a good opportunity to keep those kids engaged in the sport.”
Mordialloc LSC will host its carnival on January 31 while Ocean Grove holds its carnival on February 20 ahead of the state carnival on March 6 and 7 in Warrnambool.