Boys in Junior Netball

Wyndham Netball Association Inc., Mon Jan 2, 2017 3:15PM

Wyndham Netball has changed the rules relating to boys participating in our Saturday Juniors competition. The information below explains the reason for the change.


The changes are:

  1. Boys may play unrestricted in all Junior competitions from 9&Under to 15&Under inclusive, subject to the age requirements of the particular age based competition.
  2. Boys cannot be registered in the 18&Under competition or any higher age Junior or Open Age Ladies Competitions.


I am sure that many people will be curious about this change and why it has been made.


Anti-discrimination legislation precludes discrimination in sport based on gender until the age of 14.  Our 15&Under competition has a minimum age of 12.  Previously we restricted participation by boys from the 15&Under competition.  If we allow 12 and 13 year old girls to play in the 15&Under competition we must also allow 12 and 13 year old boys the same opportunity.  If we allow 12 and 13 year old boys to play we must also allow 14 and 15 year old boys to play because they are age appropriate for that competition.


The only way of legally restricting 14 and 15 year old boys from participating in the 15&Under competition is to either:

  1. Restrict the minimum age of the 15&Under sections to “must be 14 years old to play”.This would prevent many higher skilled 13 year old girls from participating at a challenging level.


  2. Individually assess the strength, stamina or physique of male competitors once they reach the age of 14. We do not have the personnel, time or legal resources to go down this path.


Also note that in the lower age groups we previously allowed boys to play with restrictions on their court positions.  This is also seen as discrimination and this restriction has now been removed.


The following is a summary of the information provided by Netball Victoria.



Netball Victoria (NV) and its Associations, Leagues and Clubs (Netball Affiliates) are subject to anti-discrimination legislation, both Commonwealth and Victorian. The primary piece of legislation applicable to Netball Affiliates is the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (Act), which aims to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in Victoria. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) imposes similar obligations in relation to the conduct of sport.


Under the Act1 it is unlawful to discriminate against another person by either refusing to select them in a sporting team, or by excluding them from participating in a sporting activity. There is an exception to this general prohibition2 whereby persons of one sex or gender identity may be excluded from participating in a sporting activity in which the strength, stamina or physique of competitors is relevant. This exception does not apply to children under the age of 12 years3.


The law as it applies in Australia is a combination of statute (legislation passed by the Parliament) and 'common law' (case law decided by the Courts). In 2004 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) applied the above exception4 to a junior Australian Rules Football League, and determined that the exception only applies to children aged 14 years and over. As a result, it would be discriminatory (and therefore unlawful) to exclude persons of a certain sex or gender identity from participating in a sporting activity where they were aged 13 years and under.


As a result, the general position at law in Victoria is that for contact sports, the 'strength, stamina and physique' exception only applies to children aged 14 years and above.



What is the cut-off age at which boys can no longer play in ‘girls only’ competitions?

A netball Association, League or Club that wants to exclude or restrict males from participating in a grassroots competition should only do so where the competition has a minimum age of 14. Any decision to exclude males from participating in a competition with a minimum age of 14 years should be consistently applied to that competition, i.e. they should not allow some boys to play and exclude others.


A full copy of the document is available by Clicking Here.


If you have any questions on this matter please contact me on the following email address.

WNA President (




Phil Morley


Wyndham Netball Association


Last updated: Saturday May 6, 2017 5:57PM