Section 5: Carding Criteria
This section describes the criteria that athletes must meet to be nominated for AAP support at a given level.
AAP cards are awarded on the basis of carding criteria.
Senior Cards are awarded on the basis of 1) international criteria and 2) national criteria.
Development Cards are awarded on the basis of 1) sport-specific criteria and 2) training centre criteria.
There are special considerations for team sports.
Carding cycles are usually 12 months long.
Factors such as the timing of major events sometimes require that the carding cycle be shorter or longer than 12 months. In such cases, NSOs may negotiate a shorter or longer carding cycle with Sport Canada.
Note: When an NSO chooses to change its carding cycle, athletes may be carded for a period of more or fewer than 12 months, depending on the circumstances.
Senior Cards are awarded on the basis of two different sets of criteria: international and national.
International criteria recognize and reward Canadian athletes for outstanding performances in World Championships or Olympic/Paralympic Games.
Sport Canada establishes the international criteria used to award Senior Cards. These criteria are based on international performance at Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, or World Championships.
Athletes who meet the international criteria are eligible to be nominated by the NSO for two consecutive years; the card for the first year is referred to as an SR1 card, while the second-year card is known as an SR2. The second year of carding is contingent on the athlete being re-nominated by the NSO and maintaining a training and competitive program approved by the NSO. The athlete must also sign an Athlete/NSO Agreement and complete an AAP Application Form for the year in question.
The following are the current standards for the international criteria. Sport Canada reserves the right to review and revise these criteria with appropriate notice.
- Finish in the top 8 in events limited to one entry per country; finish in the top 12 in events limited to two entries per country; finish in the top 16 in events with 3 more entries per country; and
- Finish in the top half of the field.
In Olympic/Paralympic years, new Senior Cards based on these criteria will be awarded only on the basis of results achieved in the Olympic/Paralympic Games.
In Paralympic events that do not have a minimum of 10 countries entered, these cards will be available to athletes who placed in the top 3 at Paralympic Games or World Championships with a minimum of 10 entries and a minimum of five (5) countries.
Sport Canada believes in equity of opportunity for all athletes within AAP-eligible sports to achieve Senior Card status. However, in sports that do not have a major event (World Championship or Olympic/Paralympic Games) in each year of the quadrennial, equal opportunity to qualify for Senior Cards based on international criteria does not exist.
Therefore, in an effort to provide equal opportunity for all athletes, international criteria may be based on performances other than those achieved in Olympic/Paralympic Games or World Championships. This would apply only in years in which there is no World Championship or Olympic/Paralympic Games in a given sport or event. Normally, events such as an annual World Cup, World Cup rankings, or world ranking lists will be considered.
For results to be considered for carding at this level, the NSO must demonstrate that the performance criteria used are of equal significance and quality as a World Championship OR it must demonstrate that a World Cup ranking or world ranking list is comprehensive and indicative of the athlete’s actual ranking in the world. Senior Cards awarded in this manner would be awarded on a one-year basis only.
- In cases where the Olympic/Paralympic or World Championship field is restricted by the sport’s International Federation (IF), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), or the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as a result of qualification processes or other types of entry restrictions, the requirement regarding the top half of the field may be waived by Sport Canada.
- In team, crew, or pairs events, the performance must be achieved in conjunction with Canadian athletes only. A performance that is the result of teaming up or pairing with athletes from other nations will not be considered for carding purposes.
- All Senior Cards based on international criteria but awarded on the basis of results achieved in events other than the World Championships or Olympic/Paralympic Games will be for a one-year period.
Can Senior Carding Based on International Criteria Be Retroactive?
Yes. An athlete may be carded at the Senior Card level for a two-year period retroactive to the beginning of the carding cycle
- if he or she achieves a Senior Card performance in a World Championship or Olympic/Paralympic Games within six months of the beginning of the carding cycle; and
- if the NSO and Sport Canada so agree at the annual AAP Review Meeting.
What if an Athlete Cannot Re-qualify for Senior Carding Based on International Criteria?
In keeping with a philosophy of consistent long-term support, an athlete carded at the Senior Card (SR2) level who is unable to re-qualify for this card in a World Championships, Olympic Games, or Paralympic Games may be permitted to retain his or her Senior Card (SR2) status if, in the judgement of the NSO and Sport Canada, continuation of Senior Card (SR2) status is warranted. The athlete may be permitted to retain his or her Senior Card (SR2) status by achieving the agreed-upon maintenance criteria. The following guidelines apply in such cases:
- Only athletes carded at the Senior Card (SR2) level in the carding cycle immediately before the new carding cycle will be considered under the maintenance criteria. No new Senior Cards will be awarded on the basis of maintenance criteria.
- The NSO must demonstrate to Sport Canada that continuation of Senior Card (SR2) status is warranted based on the athlete meeting equivalent international criteria in the same carding year. Such criteria may be established on the basis of results from major international events, World Cup rankings, world ranking lists, etc. The maintenance criteria must be negotiated with and approved by Sport Canada the year before the new carding cycle. The NSO must demonstrate that the standard used is of the same significance and quality as the performance required at Olympic/Paralympic Games or World Championships OR it must demonstrate that a World Cup ranking or World ranking list is comprehensive and a valid indicator of the athlete’s actual ranking in the world for that year.
- Senior Cards awarded on the basis of the maintenance criteria will be for a one-year period and will not be awarded for two consecutive years.
What if Athletes Compete in Relay Events?
Athletes who compete in the finals of relay events will be awarded Senior Cards (SR1 or SR2), depending on the result of the relay team in that final. Athletes who participate in qualifying or semi-finals in a relay event but do not compete in the finals of the event will be carded on the basis of the level of performance required to advance to that final.
For example, if a relay team is required to finish in the top 8 overall in the semi-finals to advance to the final, an athlete who participated in the semi-finals and contributed to the relay team advancing to a finals with 8 teams but did not participate in that final would be carded at the Senior Card (SR1 or SR2) level.
National criteria identify athletes who have the potential to achieve international criteria.
National criteria for Senior Cards are established by the NSO and are reviewed every year to ensure that they meet AAP policy requirements by Sport Canada. The criteria should, wherever possible, be based on objective results achieved in designated competitions. The competitions that may be used are domestic competitions (preferably National Championships), international competitions, or a combination of both. The competitions used for the national criteria should be consistent with the sport’s national training and competitive program and be accessible to the majority of the best athletes in Canada.
Senior Cards based on national criteria are awarded for one year and are called SR/C1 Cards. Athletes who meet the national criteria for Senior Cards for the first time are known as C1 Cards and are funded at the Development Card level.
What is the C1 Card?
A probationary card has been established for the first year for which an athlete has satisfied the national criteria for Senior Cards. Athletes are funded at the Development Cardlevel in the first year they meet the national criteria for a Senior Card even if they have previously been carded at the Development (D) level. These cards are designated as C1 Cards. If, however, the athlete has been carded at the SR1 or SR2 level before meeting the national criteria for the Senior Card, the athlete will be funded at the Senior Card (SR) level rather than at the Development Card level
How Long Are Senior Cards Based on National Criteria Good For?
Senior Cards based on national criteria are normally awarded for a one-year period. However, this may vary, depending on the athlete’s involvement in the NSO’s National Team Program. For example, if an athlete is training outside Canada on an NCAA scholarship, the athlete may be funded for only that part of the year when he or she is NOT attending the NCAA institution and IS training or competing under the direct supervision of the NSO. The carding cycle may also be shortened or extended, depending on the NSO’s competition cycle in relation to major events such as World Championships.
How Many Years Can Senior Cards Based on National Criteria Last?
Athletes are normally expected to improve each year to maintain a Senior Card based on national criteria. The criteria for Senior Cards based on national criteria should stipulate a maximum number of years an athlete will be supported at this card level. The maximum number of years an athlete should be supported as a Senior Card based on national criteria will vary from sport to sport and will be negotiated between Sport Canada and each NSO.
If an athlete does not reach Senior Card level based on international criteria within the prescribed number of years and the athlete is again nominated as a Senior Card based on national criteria, the athlete’s year-to-year improvement, progression toward the standard based on international criteria, and future potential will be reviewed. On the basis of this review, Sport Canada will, in conjunction with the NSO, determine whether an additional year of support as a Senior Card based on national criteria is warranted.
Development Cards are generally allocated to sports in which the technical complexity or training cycle is such that athletes must follow sophisticated programs for many years before attaining international standards at the senior level and where it is in the best interest of the athlete and the sport to bring the athlete under the auspices of the NSO and the National Team Program.
Development Cards are intended to support the developmental needs of younger athletes who clearly demonstrate the potential to achieve the Senior Card international criteria but are not yet able to meet the Senior Card criteria. If the development needs of the athlete can largely be met by existing club/provincial programming and related assistance opportunities, the athlete would generally not be considered for Sport Canada AAP support.
The financial support provided through Development Cards helps enhance conditions for younger athletes who have not had the same training, coaching, and competitive experience as older athletes and are not yet able to meet the Senior Card criteria. The allocation of Development Cards is intended to ensure that financial support is provided to the athletes with the greatest potential.
Development Cards are offered to a sport only if three or more of the following conditions are satisfactorily met:
- Athletes are identified or endorsed for nomination as Development Cards by the National Coach (or comparable NSO technical expert).
- The athlete has an annual training and competitive program based on year-round training principles that is designed, supervised, and monitored by the NSO National Coach or designate. This training program includes international competition, adequate domestic competition and significant daily training activities.
- The NSO signifies its intent and ability (in human, program and financial resource terms) to make a long-term commitment to Development-Card athletes, and vice versa.
- NSOs demonstrate how and with what specific human and financial resources they will facilitate and direct the long-term development of athletes on whose behalf they are applying for Development Cards.
As program monies may not always be available to cover the cost of athletes holding Development Cards, athletes should understand that they may be asked to contribute to program costs from their Development-Card funding.
Criteria for Development Cards are established by the NSO and are reviewed by Sport Canada each year to ensure that they meet AAP policy requirements.
The following guidelines/principles should be followed when establishing Development Card criteria:
- The criteria must be objective and must clearly demonstrate that the athlete has superior high-performance potential.
- In addition to using international and domestic results in the development of sport‑specific criteria, NSOs may use other physical or physiological parameters. Measures of technical ability and skill levels may also be used.
- A long-term commitment to a Sport Canada/NSO-recognized High Performance Training Centre may be used as one of the criteria for the awarding of a Development Card. The athlete will also have to meet the majority of the conditions outlined in Policies for Development Cards to be considered for such Development Cards. This may include athletes in team sports, athletes in sports with crew events, or athletes in sports in which training partners are essential for the continuing development of the athlete.
- The NSO must establish a maximum number of years for which athletes can be carded at the Development Card level before achieving Senior Card status.
- Athletes who have achieved Senior Card status are not normally eligible for Development Cards. Any exception to this must be justified by the NSO and included in writing in the criteria.
- It can be demonstrated, on a sport-specific basis, that if an athlete has not reached a minimum performance level by a certain age, it is unlikely that the athlete will ever achieve Senior Card international criteria. Development Card criteria should, therefore, be established with this in mind to ensure that Development Card criteria identify those athletes who still have the potential to achieve international criteria for Senior Cards.
- The reference to age in the criteria should not be established arbitrarily; the purpose of the criteria should be clearly stated in the criteria. The NSO must be able to demonstrate through statistical evidence and expert opinion that there is a clear link among the reference to age in the criteria, the performance criteria, and the potential to achieve international criteria for Senior Cards. The NSO must also be able to demonstrate that it has no alternative to the use of age to identify developing athletes.
- The criteria must be reasonable for most athletes in a given sport/discipline; they do not need to be justified with respect to every athlete.
Here are some general considerations and guidelines to keep in mind regarding carding in team sports:
- AAP support for team sport carding is intended to help support athletes already at or having the potential to reach the Senior Card’s international criteria; it is not the purpose of the AAP to simply reward individuals who make a commitment to a National Team program during the summer months.
- The AAP must be fair to athletes in both individual and team sports. It must also be recognized that in team sport there are role players who may not be among the top players in the country in terms of scoring, for example, but who nevertheless fulfil a specific function on the team and are essential to the successful performance of the team. In other words, some subjectivity is typically necessary in the selection of a team.
- Increasingly, NSOs want to provide programs for athletes below the National Senior Team level. To ensure the commitment of these athletes to centralized training, the NSO, through the AAP, may need to expedite the provision of financial support to these athletes while they are participating in National Team programs. This type of assistance is also provided to ensure continued participation by Canadian athletes in the Canadian sport system.
- There is a requirement for full-time centralization for long periods in some sports. However, it is acknowledged that some team sport athletes may need to remain in their home environment for legitimate personal, educational or professional reasons. On the recommendation of the national coach, these athletes may be eligible for a reduced level of carding support at the Development Card level while they stay in their usual home location (i.e., away from the National Team Centre).
- The monitoring and availability of team-sport athletes is a key issue in the provision of AAP support. Sport Canada may provide AAP support to team-sport athletes while they are participating in competitive situations outside Canada, provided they are being monitored by their NSO and have the support of the National Coach. These situations are generally handled on a sport-by-sport, individual basis.
- At the annual AAP Review Meeting, the NSO will present results and evaluations of the previous year’s programs to ensure it has met the agreed-to standards. The NSO will then identify the annual program for all teams and athletes for which carding is requested and will indicate the detailed year-round training and competition programs and the process for monitoring athlete training and performance.
Development Cards for team sports are available only to athletes required to be involved in competition and training programs under the auspices of the NSO for significant time periods during the carding year. Development Card support for team sports will vary according to the intensity and duration of the program; it may include monthly stipends and tuition support, or combinations of the two. The duration and intensity of team camps/competition tours will determine whether athletes receive monthly stipends only or monthly stipends plus tuition support, as well as the number of months per year for which such support will be provided.
The NSO should make an advance commitment to operate these programs as outlined in the NSO multi-year plan. If these commitments are not sustained, Sport Canada may withdraw AAP support for athletes in these programs.
In years when the Junior or National B Team programs are limited, carding support may not be available. National A Team training squad members may be eligible for Development Card support if minimum program requirements are met.
In general, Sport Canada will consider Junior/National B Team carding only in sports where
- there is an intent (for example, a program outline and budget allocation);
- funding is available to undertake significant Junior or National B Team programs or both throughout the quadrennial;
- there is a logical flow without gap from Junior Team to the National Team or from Junior to National B Team to the National Senior Team.
Minimum Standards for Development Cards in Team Sports
To be eligible to receive full funding at the Development Card level (12 months of living and training allowance plus tuition, where applicable), team sports must meet the following minimum standards:
- A National Team program of a minimum duration of sixty (60) days must be in place. The program must consist of a minimum of four (4) hours of team practice daily and should include a minimum of one tournament or four games of international competition during or following the sixty-day training period.
- All athletes must be involved in year-round intensive training programs that are supervised or monitored by the NSO National Coach or designate.
- A monitoring plan for each athlete that will allow for an evaluation of each athlete’s individual training plan and progress must be in place.
Note: Reduced support may be provided for programs that last for a minimum of thirty (30) days and meet the last two standards outlined above.
The National Senior Team
Senior Cards and Development Cards are assigned to athletes who are members of the National Senior Team. These cards are based on the team’s performance and on the contribution of each athlete to that performance.
Senior Cards based on national criteria are awarded to athletes who are members of National Senior Teams who have not yet reached the international criteria for Senior Cards. Athletes awarded a Senior Card for the first time are awarded C1 Cards and are funded at the Development Card level.
Funding for Senior Cards is available only to athletes involved with National Senior Team programming, as outlined by the NSO. For this reason, athletes unable to commit to all portions of the program may be carded at the Senior Card level if they are a member of the National Senior Team, but they will usually not be eligible for full funding or funding at that carding level. Exceptions will be considered only in special circumstances, on the basis of submissions from the NSO and with the support of the National Coach.
Athletes who are available to train or play with national teams on a limited basis may be supported while they are with the National Senior Team at the usual stipend level on the basis of athlete/team performance, provided the athlete commits to involvement with the team for the major events of the quadrennial (i.e., the Olympic Games and related qualification events). This provision would normally be applied to athletes playing outside Canada. The level and duration of the support will be considered by Sport Canada on a case-by-case basis.
Centralized athletes nominated for carding by the National Coach who wish to leave the National Training Centre for academic or other acceptable reasons will be eligible for financial support only at the Development Card level. Athletes supported under this provision must make a commitment to an approved training program and to participation in the major competitive events of the quadrennial (World Championships, Olympic/Paralympic qualification tournaments, Olympics/Paralympics, etc.).
Below the National Senior Team
Additional AAP support to individuals on teams below the National Senior Team level may be provided at the Development Card level to eligible NSOs on the basis of their card quotas and the following:
- The demonstrated ability of the NSO to deliver comprehensive and quality programming;
- The scope and intensity of the programs offered at the various levels of the high-performance system;
- The scope and intensity of the individual athlete training and competitive demands; and
- The ability of the NSO to supervise and monitor the day-to-day training of its athletes on an annual basis.
Development Cards for team sports may be available to athletes in team sports who are members of the National A Team training squad or National B Team. This level of card is also available to athletes on Sport-Canada-supported Junior National Teams who make a significant commitment to the Junior National Team Program.
An athlete at the Development Card (Team Sports) level who makes the National Team during the carding year will normally be carded and funded at the Senior Card level at the start of the next carding year.
Centralization of Development Card Athletes
Developing athletes in team sports who agree to centralize at a national team centre on a year-round basis at the request of the NSO/National Coach may be eligible for Development Cards, provided training centre criteria are met.
Athletes who retire or who are under review by their NSO may be replaced by a designated athlete if these situations are discussed with Sport Canada and the source of potential replacements is identified at the time of the annual AAP Review Meeting.
“Replacement” carding to fill vacant positions caused by retirement, departure from a national team program, or de-carding during the carding cycle may only be provided during the course of the carding year should the athlete’s funding be terminated within the first six (6) months of the carding cycle. The “replacement” athlete must have met the carding criteria and be ranked by the NSO as the next athlete to receive AAP support in the annual AAP review process.
Carding criteria are submitted by the NSO and reviewed by Sport Canada for compliance with the AAP. Under normal circumstances, NSOs distribute these criteria 8 to 10 months before the beginning of the sport’s carding year. Carding criteria should be published no later than the beginning of the competition cycle for the upcoming carding period.
Wherever possible, the criteria should be based on objective measures. The NSO may choose to use the results from designated Canadian competitions (which may include National Championships), designated international competitions or a combination of these competitions. Team-sport carding criteria should normally be linked to National Team selection criteria and the National Team depth chart.
Opportunities to meet carding requirements should be consistent with a sport’s national training or competitive program and should be accessible to the majority of the best athletes in Canada.
The working documents or data used to nominate athletes using approved criteria (actual results of World Championships, National Championships, world ranking lists, etc.) and to validate actual performances shall be made available to Sport Canada at the time of nomination. Further information on the application process and submission format is outlined in Application for and Approval of Cards.
Criteria should be set in a manner similar to the following:
- The NSO Head Coach, Coaching Committee or appropriate body within the NSO proposes the carding criteria.
- The Athlete Representative and appropriate NSO decision-making body review the criteria and make recommendations regarding the criteria.
- The appropriate NSO Technical Committee reviews and approves the criteria.
Note: It is recommended that NSOs include the following information with their carding criteria:
- Athletes in Olympic/Paralympic sports competing in World Championship events that are not on the Olympic/Paralympic program are not eligible for carding based on performances in those events.
- Athletes in non-Olympic/Paralympic events that are under consideration for inclusion in the official program of future Olympic/Paralympic Games may be considered for carding under the Olympic/Paralympic sport criteria following confirmation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that the sport/event has been added to the program of the next Olympic/Paralympic Games.
To help NSOs produce new or revised carding criteria, Sport Canada has produced a step-by-step guide to the development of carding criteria.
This guide is available from Sport Canada. It introduces key concepts and principles, and it includes text that NSOs can use verbatim in their carding criteria. The guide is intended for the technical staff and volunteers who are involved with athlete selection and nomination to the AAP.