Adaptive Sport Program: Selection Process, Categorisation, and Pathways
what is the adaptive sport program?
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) Adaptive Sport Program (ASP) is a multi-sport program for wounded, injured or ill serving and former serving military personnel and includes both domestic and international events. The Adaptive Sports Program is the program from which competitors for the Invictus Games and Warrior Games are chosen.
Australia’s participation in the ASP aims to provide an opportunity for current and former-serving ADF members to develop or maintain their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration goals. It also encourages individuals to start, re-commence or continue a journey toward life-long participation in sport.
Invictus Australia (IA) works collaboratively with the ADF to support former serving members and their families to attend the Invictus Games and other adaptive sport activities, with the ADF taking responsibility for the current serving members. The ADF is recognised as the lead agency for Australia’s participation in the Invictus Games with the Chief of the Australia Defence Force determining Australia’s participation in this event.
Invictus Australia funds former-serving competitors and support staff across a range of logistics including but not limited to; travel, uniforms, accommodation, and catering while attending training camps to prepare for the Games. Invictus Australia also promotes the Team and Games widely to the Australian public, media, corporate, Government and other stakeholders, to gain further support.
For more information about the role Invictus Australia plays in delivering Team Australia to an Invictus Games, in partnership with the ADF, watch the short video below.
the role of invictus australia
Invictus Australia funds former-serving competitors and support staff across a range of logistics including but not limited to; travel, accommodation and catering to support attendance at multiple ASP training camps to prepare for an event and related to the Games outside of military resource; procures and manages logistics relating to competitor, staff and family & friend uniform and pays for all former-serving Team, family and staff uniform requirements; plus other logistics including equipment support, former-serving competitor liaison etc. As well as promoting the Team and Games widely to the Australian public, media, corporate, Government and other stakeholders, to gain further support.
who can apply?
Team Australia for the Invictus Games is open to wounded, injured and ill (WII) service personnel – both serving and former serving veterans of the regular or reserve Australian Defence Force who have become wounded, injured or ill during or as a direct consequence of their service.
The selection process for the Australian Invictus Games Team, and the other Adaptive Sport teams starts with a call for nominations by the ADF. Interested competitors will complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form. The selection process aims to identify the individuals that would benefit most from the experience in their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts – taking into account attitude and behaviour, commitment and sportsmanship and to a lesser extent – readiness for competition.
In previous years, over 200 applications have been received. For The Hague Games in 2022, a team of 32 were selected. For the Dusseldorf Games in 2023, a team of 31were selected. It is important to note that most that apply will not be selected, and those that do attend a Games have a high chance of not being selected for a second Games regardless of their performance. With the criteria weighted toward identifying those who would benefit from sport for recovery and rehabilitation, traditional ‘success’ (i.e. medals) is not an indicator of likelihood of attending another Games. By selecting new faces, it is also viewed as an opportunity to share the incredible Games experience with as many veterans as possible to maximise the benefits across the Defence community.
The stages of Team Australia’s Selection Process is as follows:
- STAGE 1 – Expression of interest submitted to ADF
- STAGE 2 – EOIs reviewed to create a “short list” to participate in the program activities. Those not selected will be notified by the ADF
- STAGE 3 – Shortlist members invited to take part in further selection and program activities – depending on the sports and events in their EOI
- STAGE 4 – Australian Team Selection Policy implemented by Selection Panel
- STAGE 5 – Final Team Selected
Team Australia Selection Criteria and Principles;
The Invictus Games is different to other sporting competitions in terms of its unique aims.
- The Games are not about high-performance sport or winning medals.
- Games are focused on using sport as tool for competitor recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
- Categorisation (not classifications) is used to group competitors with impairments into categories with similar capabilities in ‘the spirit of the games’. Where injuries and illnesses may have a lower impact on capability, Competitors compete in the open category.
- All competitors are eligible to participate in the Invictus Games regardless of their impairment type – this includes competitors traditionally excluded from para-sport
- Each nation selects, trains and manages their team differently and has varying degrees of experience with adaptive sport.
- The term ‘competitors’ (rather than athletes) is used purposefully to support the above points
Specifically, team selection criteria and principles adhere to the following;
- Selection for Team Australia is aligned to the objectives of Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration.
- Attitude and Behaviour. To ensure that the selected Australian Team will represent the Australian Defence Force values of Service, Courage, Respect, Integrity and Excellence, and operate effectively in the multi-sport team environment to support.
- Commitment and Sportsmanship. To ensure the selected Australian Team upholds the Australian Defence Force values as a group and as a Nation; and operates as a united team that appreciates the privilege to represent the Australian Defence Force and Invictus Australia.
- Readiness for Competition. To ensure individual members of Team Australia are: (i) ready for the particular environment; (ii) can compete confidently and safely; and, (iii) are able to maximise sport for their rehabilitation and recovery.
The Categorisation process, is run independently by the Invictus Games Foundation with thanks to 22 international volunteers, uses a more subjective approach to enable wider participation, and differs from International Paralympic Committee sport classes in number, format, naming and inclusivity, such as including psychological injuries and chronic health conditions. The aim of the IGF Categorisation process is to ensure that a robust and fair categorisation process is implemented, in keeping with the ‘Spirit of the Games’, ensuring individuals are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by their impairment(s) and that a consistent approach is adopted across all the nations, maintaining the integrity of the competition and in the interests of fair play.
The system used is ‘functional’ – this means that the main factors that determine category are not diagnosis and medical evaluation, but how much the functional impairment of a person impacts upon sports.
who selects the team?
The Selection Panel will select competitors to make up Team Australia to compete in a specified event. The Selection Panel will consider all relevant information including the individual participant profile, selection criteria and principles, and additional factors it deems necessary.
how many games can i attend?
As previously stated the Invictus Games Foundation have recently introduced a rule where by, competitors may attend a maximum of two Invictus Games, which helps to promote diversity and maximise the influence of the Games. To reiterate, it is important to note that being selected for Team Australia, or winning medals, in one Games does not guarantee a spot in the following Games given the focus is on recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
what if i miss out?
Positions are limited on the Australian Team and not everyone can attend the Invictus Games.
This is where Invictus Australia can support alternative sporting pathways that mirror the outcomes of a Games, ranging from international competitions such as the Lifesaving World Championships as part of Team Invictus Australia, joining Team Veteran as part of the National True Grit calendar of activities, or attending Master’s Games as part of Team Veteran, powered by Invictus Australia. There are a range of other free, local sporting opportunities made possible through Invictus Australia’s network with Local and National Sporting Organisations including Rowing Australia, Archery Australia, Dragon Boat Federation, Table Tennis Australia, Water Polo Australia and many others. All events can be viewed here.
Invictus Australia has local Facebook Groups that create an online community to share upcoming activities, from IA and other local groups.
- Newcastle, servicing Northern NSW Facebook Group
- ACT Region, servicing Canberra and South Coast NSW
- ACT Region Facebook Group
- South East Queensland Facebook Group
- South Australia Facebook Group
- Victoria Facebook Group
- South Coast NSW, Facebook Group
- Western Australia Facebook Group
You can also sign up to receive a monthly e-newsletter to stay across all Aus sporting activities.
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About Invictus Australia: Invictus Australia encourages veterans and their families to connect and engage with their communities through sport. Whether participating or volunteering at grassroots level, to competing internationally at an Invictus or Warrior Games, Invictus Australia leverages the power of sport to proactively foster good health and aid in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Invictus Australia promotes the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport for all, and shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans, particularly the challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.