Monday, July 22, 2024

Why we should banish ‘junior’ and replace with ‘youth’ hockey

Reader John Hendy says there should be a title to reflect the communication needs in the modern world

When are we going to stop calling the younger members of our playing community ‘Junior’ and begin to refer, with appropriate respect, to the whole of our game’s younger section as ‘YOUTH’ hockey?

U14 players now play in our ‘ADULT’ leagues.  These ‘ADULT’ leagues are not referred to as ‘Senior’ leagues. 

Then, later on, we have ‘MASTERS’ not ’major’, ‘major’, ‘primary’ or ‘superior’. Younger individual players do not like being referred to as ‘Junior’.

Hardly surprising, since it is demeaning to be titled and classified as smaller, lesser, lower, subordinate, small, minor or secondary. 

This classification feels like it is a left-over from the 1950’s and, possibly, a legacy of private education, which dominated our game at that time and which is an image (together with ‘Jolly hockey sticks”) that we have worked hard, but have yet to shrug off. 

It would be a very simple change to make. It would make so much difference to the image we put out there for the world to see. 

The image of our Youth playing community is critical to the future of our game.

Changing the personal and external perceptions of our young players and their game, plus the perceptions of their parents, schools, clubs, coaches, the media, and adult players would be a step towards promoting future success.

It is not Junior any more, the word is staggeringly inaccurate and no longer appropriate. 

It’s time we woke up and gave our younger players a title that reflects the respect they expect and require, and the communication needs of the 21st century.

Total Hockey



  1. This sums up the WOKE society we now live in! I’ve worked with kids for half a century and never once has a young person been concerned about the word junior!

  2. In Australia (or Western Australia at least), the “adult” competition is known as “Seniors”, while school-age players (ie U18) are “Juniors”. Of course some Juniors also play Senior hockey. Masters starts at Over 40 for Men and Over 35 for Women. So for us, “Junior” matches up with “Senior”. The issue I would see with you using “Youth” in the UK is that the definition of “youth” is the period between childhood and adulthood. So maybe that’s from around 13 years old to 18 years old? What will you call the players who are younger? “Children’s hockey”? To me youth implies teenagers, while “Junior” implies U18 (not yet adult), and wouls cover ALL players up to the age of 18.

    • And I agree with Anthony, I’ve never heard our Juniors complaining about being called “Juniors” – “Juniors” is used by almost every sport in Australia.

      • This could be the dumbest article I have ever read. I have never, ever heard a Junior hockey player say they didn’t appreciate being called a junior. This message is so unfathomably stupid.

  3. Here in WA, leagues are junior, senior and masters.
    In 25 years of coaching juniors and seniors, I have never heard anyone complain about the junior term or request to be called youth.
    I suspect hockey has far bigger fish to fry.

  4. We have bigger and more pressing issues to focus our energy on I’m afraid. Lack of playing facilities and fewer and fewer secondary schools playing hockey put our sport on the presipis of becoming an elitest sport once more which I for one would be bitterly saddened by.

  5. In preferring to taint an opinion/suggestion by referring to it as woke-driven has meant that this initial reply has missed the point. Unfortunately, it has also lead to others taking up the same cudgel.
    Yes, there are more important things to debate, decide and act upon in the hockey world, but if ideas, thoughts and opinions are met with derogatory labels, we won’t progress very far.
    Polarisation, satellite evolution of clubs because of migration of young players – due the talent system.
    The constant loss of available pitches due to council conversions causing loss of clubs.
    The indoor game, a wonderful fast geometric tactics game, speed, split second ball control skills – a must have for up and coming players – great spectator game, almost set aside – an opportunity to evolve and expand a support game on another surface going begging.

    Look, it’s just an opinion – ‘Junior’ as a description or definition, from so many standpoints is, in the 21 century, incorrect.
    The image, perceptions, (and potential brand?), conjured by the words ‘Youth Hockey’ are far more descriptive, accurate, inclusive, up-to-date, and acceptable to all involved, and outsiders, than “Junipr Hockey”.

    Half a century ago “majority’ was not reached until 21,…much has changed. See below… Junior no longer seems appropriate, if at 15 you can be sent to prison.
    Please note – The initial letter, as published, had the following additional background cut, some eye-openers about age here.

    Copied from –
    At age 10
    You can have your ears pierced, but your parent may have to be with you.
    You can choose your own religion.
    You can be convicted of a criminal offence.
    You can be convicted of a sexual offence – including rape, if you are a boy. Girls can be prosecuted too, under other laws.
    At 11
    You can open a current account (bank account) but you will need your parent’s permission
    Most children (not all!) will move into secondary school
    At 12
    You can watch a 12 or 12A film or play a 12 computer game.
    You can be remanded into a secure unit or secure training facility for persistent offending.
    You can be placed on an electronically monitored curfew while you’re awaiting a court decision.
    At 13
    You can have a part-time job, with some restrictions.
    You can have an account on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter.
    At 14
    You can enter a pub if the landlord allows it, but you can’t buy or drink alcohol, only soft drinks.
    You can be fined for not fastening your seatbelt while in a moving car.
    You can go to gigs and concerts in licensed venues if the venue allows (look for 14+ gigs)
    At 15
    You may be remanded to a prison to await trial.
    If you are convicted of a criminal offence you can be fined and sentenced to prison time.
    You can rent and buy a 15 category film.
    At 16
    You can work full time if you have left school, have a National Insurance number and the job has accredited training.
    You can give consent and have sex.
    You can be prosecuted for having sex with someone who is under 16.
    You can apply for your own passport with a parent’s consent.
    You can change your name.
    You can be prosecuted for neglecting a child in your care.
    At 17
    You can hold a driver’s licence and apply for a motorcycle licence.
    You can be interviewed by the police without an appropriate adult being present.
    A care order can no longer be made on you.
    You can register to vote. (But you can’t vote until you’re 18)

    On 2 Jun 2023, at 15:34, The Hockey Paper wrote:

    Read your game. Read hockey. View in browser

  6. Sorry I have to agree with the majority of comments here – there is no negative inference to the term ‘Junior’ unless you take one. Can’t wait to watch the next generation of talent at the Junior World Cup in December.

    Predictably the Hockey Paper gets a dig in about those in private education too – when are you going to start to try and unite your readers around a love of the game instead of vilifying various sections of our playing community?

  7. Interesting debate as I probably agree with so much of above. I have some issues myself with “
    Juniors” as a generic title when discussing things with SussexU16/18 groups or any young people that engage with their own development, yes there are many other issues in hockey in England, the demise of state school Hockey & Indoor, the lack of astros when old hockey astros are moved to football only surfaces & lack of understanding of councils of the fact hockey is a mens, ladies & mixed sport so covers both widening of participation & inclusive practice.
    My question for the now is what are we going to do about the growth of girls football esp with the incoming World Cup & money moving into Womens football!

    • I agree with your football comment as hockey s becoming an expensive sport and a lot of families can’t afford it especially if you have 2 or 3 children.
      I also agree that hockey England need t do something about lack facilities and where they are, they are very expensive

  8. The section of our club running hockey for those aged 4-18 is called the Junior Section. I don’t think it sensible to call a 4 year old a “youth” and I very much doubt the 16-18 year olds care what the section is called


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