TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROTOCOLS; SQUADS AND TEAMS
Squad membership is to be determined by eligibility based on benchmark performances and will not be a selection process. Selection v Eligibility: The term ‘selection’ is to be used for teams, and the term ‘eligibility’ for squads.
The number of athletes who reach benchmark performances will determine the number of athletes in each talent development squad. There will not be a quota of athletes available for squad eligibility. The actual benchmark performances for different age groups and talent stages are found in the FTEM framework benchmarks section of the HP Strategic Plan (p23).
An athlete can apply, or be invited, to be in a squad at any stage of the year. At the upper end of the talent development structure, the onus is on athletes to justify/prove their eligibility, which will also help them identify goals to work towards in order to make a squad. Positions in a squad can be reviewed if performance / improvement / commitment is accelerated or not happening. At the lower end of the Talent Development Structure, talent ID protocols and invitations will be implemented. It is also the role of State Development Squads to encourage and support athletes to gain entry into national squads.
Team Selection (WOC/JWOC); membership of a squad will normally be used as a requirement for team selection. In special circumstances, selectors may select an athlete in a team who is not a member of a Squad and subsequently the selected athlete will need to become a squad member to take up their position in the team. Selectors will be empowered, in special circumstance, to add athletes to squads. However, membership of a squad will normally be used as a requirement of selection.
Older elites (late 20s or 30s) who may (or may not) have reached their career peaks and are not members of the Elite High Performance Squad (EHPS), are still potential candidates for WOC / World Cup teams. These athletes are still eligible for membership in both the High Performance Squad (HPS) and National Development Squad (NDS). These elites are key members of the high performance group and provide essential mentoring to younger members.
The core age range in the Talent Development Squads is indicative only and older athletes are eligible for these talent development structures particularly those coming to the sport later in life or re-entering after a period away from the sport.
Only a small proportion of athletes’ pathways are smooth and continuous, starting from a young junior, progressing smoothly upwards, without injury or major life events, and continuously developing into a successful, international, senior athlete at 21/22 years of age. One aim of squad structures is to maximise this progression through a crafted, sequential and deliberate talent initiative that develops the physical, psychological and technical capacities as well as life skills that underpin ongoing success.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many talented athletes have pathways that are disjointed and progress at varying rates with various obstacles. As orienteering is a late development sport, this accentuates the need for squad structures and re-selection policies to cater for discontinuous and broken progression at the beginning of the High Performance pathway. These processes and policies, to cater for discontinuous pathways, involve athletes having the control to select and de-select themselves from squads knowing deselection will have no penalty at a later date.
De-selection and re-selection opportunities, and re-engagement strategies into and out of squads are a key feature of squads to enable squads athletes should be fully committed for the year they have selected made themselves available for squad selection.