As a club, we acknowledge that Players will occasionally seek to play in a higher or lower age competition than the one determined by their chronological age.

Playing Up – Necessary Prerequisites 

Before the club can agree that a Player can play outside their chronological age group, it must be clear that playing up will not adversely impact their safety and football development. Before approaching the club, consider the following: 

  • Will the Player be placed at unnecessary risk of injury by playing against bigger and stronger opposition in a higher age group?
  • Will playing in an older age group be the best environment for the development of the Player, both as a footballer and as a young person?  

Before participating in any games outside their chronological age group, a parent or guardian must submit the applicable Age Dispensation Application Form for club approval. If you’ve considered the above questions and would still like the Player to play outside their chronological age group, contact Ainslie’s Manager of Junior Football Operations at to receive the relevant Age Dispensation Application Form. 

Applications for age dispensation to play up may be for a single year or two or more years. Factors considered during age dispensation applications assessments are:

  • Age – the difference between the Player’s age and those playing in the older age group.
  • Size and maturity – whether the Player is physically and mentally advanced for their age. The assessment will consider whether the Player will be put in an unsafe environment playing against older opponents.
  • Skill level – whether the Player has good skills. Skill levels can determine how often the Player will get the ball during a match. A Player’s poor skills and minimal contribution to the game can lead to a lack of confidence or enjoyment.
  • Other factors – We’ll also consider team balance, individual motivation, discipline, and the nature of the request, i.e., to play up full-time or part-time.

Playing Up – Single Age 

All single-year age dispensation applications for playing a year up will be reviewed by the AFC Manager of Junior Football Operations and Juniors President. In their review, they will consult with the coach/coaches of the applicant’s chronological age group and the coach/coaches of the older age group they aspire to play in. 

If the coaches agree that an older age group is appropriate and will serve the development of the Player well, the club will approve the application. If there are concerns that playing up may jeopardise the safety and development of the Player, the club will contact the parent/guardian of the Player to discuss team options for the Player in 2023. 

Playing Up – Double Age

AFL Canberra reviews and makes final decisions on all applications for players wanting to play in an age group two years above their chronological age group. These applications must be approved by the Manager of Junior Football Operations or the Juniors President before the club sends them to AFL Canberra for final approval. To begin this process, please email Ainslie’s Manager of Junior Football Operations, Matthew Teasdale, to acquire an Age Dispensation Application consent form. 

Playing Down

Players may also seek dispensation to play in an age group below their applicable age group for physical capacity, disability or development considerations. Players seeking an exemption to play down must obtain dispensation following the National Age Dispensation Policy.

For Players wanting to play down, their parent/guardian must lodge a signed Age Dispensation Application – Younger Age Form with the Junior President or the Manager of Junior Football OperationsThe application must be supported by relevant medical evidence that states the basis for playing in a younger age group. 

Relevant factors in determining if a Player can play in a younger age group are: 

  • Disability: a disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) or
  • Physical Size or Development: for a Player, that Player has a body mass index (i.e. divide Player’s weight (in kilograms) by Player’s height (in metres squared)) under the 5th percentile for that Player’s age as measured by a sports dietitian, clinical exercise physiologist or other appropriately qualified Medical Specialist.

The club will forward the application, supporting medical certificate and the club’s recommendation to AFL Canberra for final decision. After considering the circumstances presented, AFL Canberra will determine the application for exemption as it sees fit.

If you are considering applying for a Player to play in an age group below their chronological age, please contact the Manager of Junior Football Operations at to discuss this matter further.