The Culture of Youth Development


“Play is not only valuable for self and social aspects, it actually brings a powerful learning element.”

Joey Peters


The gravity of sports professionals accepting their new identity once they retire from playing, is real. Joey Peters went straight into elite coaching once she retired in 2009 and what followed was a period of burnout and mental illness. She is now able to look back on her experience and realise that it helped give her the shift she needed and an appreciation of being a participant.


Football fans will remember Joey from the Australian Women’s National Soccer Team called the Matildas. Joey wore the #10 shirt and the long list of accolades achieved throughout her career have led to her being inducted into the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) Hall of Fame in 2010. She is also a Mum, a Football Commentator and an Analyst. Joey is one of the sportspeople invited to join the FFA ‘Starting XI’ Panel to discuss and debate the growth and development of Australian football, as well as developing her own coaching methodology called GAME PLAY LEARN.


The focus of our chat today is The Culture of Youth Development and how Joey hides learning in fun and provides dynamic, motivating learning environments aimed at inspiring and nurturing players through GAME PLAY LEARN.


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Joey is a huge advocate for valuing participation over performance. Performance, being focused on winning and results while participation, being the joy of the journey. Through her research and insights Joey has learnt to value the experience with others as well as the social connections, while letting go of the pressures that can come with being results focused.


Kids are dropping out of sports and the feedback Joey has received is that it has lost its fun. In fact, if you head down to your local game and hear more kids yelling than adults, she would like to hear about it, as that, according to Joey, would be cool!


As a lifelong learner Joey has explored the Science of Complexity and has made the shift to focus on the experience, while playing the game. Looking beyond football Joey has studied child development and human behaviour and is dedicated to sharing the message that a child-centred approach, based around exploratory and creative play, is much more effective than building structured environments. She understands that the end result of the game is something you can’t control and by being wrapped up with the outcome and players ‘being the best until we die’, are missing out.


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There is no mistaking the passion in Joey’s voice as she delves into GAME PLAY LEARN where relationships are the heart of everything she does. During this week’s conversation Joey explains why diversity is much more valuable than specialising and shares her thoughts on why we are doing our talented kids an injustice by training them in only one sport from a very young age.


We are currently confronted with so many elements of change due to COVID-19 entering our lives. Joey is directing good energy towards the possibility of change although, rather than using the word change, she uses the term experiment as a more fun alternative.


Click here to listen to someone who, as an expert in her field, prefers to refer to herself as a facilitator or supervisor rather than a coach and learn more about her mission to see play-based learning no longer having a minority support base.


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