On fill ins – an opinionated explainer

Posted on by

Categories Social Competition

This is the first part of a series explaining why we do things. It is certainly not required reading but hopefully of interest to our members and possibly helpful to other organisations

PPT has many aspects to it including its refereeing, juniors, women’s, and representative programs. However the main thing that we run and that most are familiar with is our week night social touch competition. There are many things that differentiate that competition from others. But one is very different to similar organisations, and that we are often asked to explain, is our attitude to fill ins (a fill in being anyone not on the team list)

Many other organisations encourage fill ins and have Facebook groups to make them easier. We discourage them and expect captains to minimise their use.

Why do we do this? Its probably best to start with our aims and circumstances.

Our aims are:

To further social opportunities, touch football and other social sports for juniors and adults in the City of Melbourne and adjoining areas

You’ll note that social opportunities are right up front. It is an often repeated phrase that Princes Park Touch is not a touch organisation but rather a social organisation that plays touch. That means the social competition matches are there to facilitate the social side. That does not, however, mean we don’t take the games seriously. Indeed we are fanatically committed to ensuring every game is played (and expect similar commitment from our captains). But it does mean that the emphasis is on participation, fun, friendship and socialising afterwards. Winning and playing at a high standard are well down the list.

Our circumstances are such that many people want to join us. This is likely because they like our aims and culture. Many of these people will be new to the sport and we think that is great. We don’t care about standard or athletic ability. Everyone is welcome if they have the right attitude.

From our aims and circumstances flows our approach to fill ins. Which is that we try to minimise their use and that we expect our captains to support us in this. That is not to say fill ins are not allowed, our first priority is that that a game goes ahead. But that they should be a rare.

There are four main reasons for this approach.

The first reason is that fill ins are usually unfair on the opposition. Most of us have no issue with losing to a better team. But losing to fill ins who may be talented but have no relationship to to the opposition is unfair.

The second reason is that fill ins are harmful to the long term health of the teams that use them. This occurs on three levels. The first is at a playing level in that they are not part of the team and don’t add to the team cohesion on and off the field needed for long term successful teams. The second level is cultural, in that fill ins discourage the commitment within the team of showing up each week to play. The third is at a recruitment level, in that teams usually use fill ins to cover a temporary hole. Where they would be better recruiting a permanent player (this is especially relevant at PPT where teams should all have a mix of abilities and hence be beginner friendly).

The third reason is cultural. PPT is a social organisation and while fill ins may like the sport, we find they rarely appreciate the social aspect that we try to emphasise (if they did we’d be happy to find them a team to play with regularly).

The fourth reason is the most important. At any point in time we usually have people keen to join teams at PPT. This is generally the case with women and always the case with men. Therefore if team members communicate promptly (i.e. do not leave it to the last minute) and captains are organised fill ins should be rare. In the event teams are or could be short of players, the captain should reach out to our committee to send an extra player to join their squad permanently. Essentially using a fill in is potentially costing a new player the opportunity to join us.

Hopefully this helps to explain the reasons for our approach. Ensuring every game goes ahead every week is our first second and third priority. So if a fill in is required to ensure that, that it is almost always fine (approval is required in finals). But they should be rare and we expect our captains to work with us to create the culture of organisation and communication, that goes with being a member and ensure fill ins are minimised.

NB In our womens competition we are creating the teams and all games are at the same time, so the issue is not relevant.

Fill in your details below or login