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If places on Teams are reserved for AFT/AFS members, surely that is preferential treatment?
There are places reserved for AFT members on Australian Cadet and Junior teams. These have two places out of three or four (depending on the event) to be selected in the first instance from AFT members on the basis of their national rankings. The remaining places are open to both AFT and non-AFT members based on their national ranking and other criteria. Reserving two positions in the first instance for AFT members is necessary support the team-building objective of the AFF High Performance Plan and to recognize the commitment of AFT members who engage in a 12 month training and competition program to prepare for the next World Championships. To do otherwise would mean the National Coaches who are preparing teams for the AFF’s benchmark event (World Championships), may not be able to have the nucleus of the team they are preparing for the next World Championships compete in the critical lead up events. It is then entirely possible that the athletes who displaced them may choose not to nominate or may not qualify for selection for the World Championships.
It takes time, persistence, dedication, and extensive experience in international competition to achieve success. The National Weapons Coaches need to have continuity among the team of athletes they are working with over the longer term to achieve the required standard for international success. If athletes, who can’t or won’t make the commitment 12 months in advance to work with the team and to be available for the benchmark competitions, are able to pick and choose which events they wish to attend and are not part of the national team of athletes, coaches, and managers working towards Australian Fencing’s long-term goal of international success, then Australian Fencing won’t improve over what has been achieved with this individualistic approach over the last ten years. The AFF recognizes that some people may have difficulty adjusting to this change of culture and policy and have provided access to some places on Australian Junior and Cadet Teams for athletes who choose to work outside the national structure. This is more accommodating of individualism than many other team sports allow.
There are no places reserved for AFT members on Australian Open teams. These are selected in the first instance from both AFT members and non-AFT members who achieve a number of performance thresholds and then the remaining places are selected from AFT members who have completed all the requirements of their Athlete Agreement based on their national ranking. This is because the current policies were introduced after the current Olympic cycle had started and the AFF did not wish to disadvantage athletes who had already set their course to qualify for London prior to the introduction of the AFT.