FA proposals for youth football take shape

The Football Association has published final proposals for the future of youth football in England.

The recommendations, which follow two years of research and consultation, will be put forward to County FAs before a final proposal to the National Game Board and FA Council in April.

If given the go-ahead, the radical changes to youth football – which include a new player pathway and a new approach to competitive football for all children of primary school age – will be phased in from the 2013/14 season, although leagues can adopt the changes as early as next season, should they choose to.

The proposals follow two years of research led by FA National Development Manager for Youth Football Nick Levett and his team, including a nationwide tour to discuss the proposals with grassroots coaches and league and club officials from across the country.

The plans have now been drawn up into a handy presentation for the grassroots football community, including notes and supporting information. Click the link below to view the presentation:

* FA Youth Development Proposals – Final Recommendations (P’point doc)

Whilst covering a large amount of detail, the new proposals focus primarily on three core areas:

Revised player pathway

A new player pathway will see the introduction of two new formats of the game. Under-7s and under-8s will play 5-a-side, while 9-a-side will become mandatory for under-11s and -12s and remain an option for all ages up to under-16s.

Each format of the game – 5v5, 7v7, 9v9, 11v11 – will be played on pitches of suitable sizes, with age-appropriate goal and ball sizes.

Feedback from the FA roadshows suggest that 92% of people strongly agree or agree with the new pathway, with many describing it as “just common sense”.

‘Child-centred’ competition

A new ‘child-centred’ approach to competition will see the traditional eight-month season with one league table – as used in adult football – replaced by a more flexible approach for all children up to under-11s by the 2015/16 season.

The new programme, which will ensure a greater focus on development and enjoyment for participants, will combine development matches with creative competition events, so that what children want is at the heart of the process.

The FA found that, once the new approach was clearly explained and fully understood, 97% of roadshow attendees were in favour of the new approach to competition.

Tackling the Relative Age Effect

At the start of the 2013/14 season, the youngest football age group will be selected on a calendar year basis – i.e. “2007s” – rather than the traditional under-7s.

By shifting the selection year for grassroots football away from school football – which will remain on a September to August basis – the FA hopes to reduce the Relative Age Effect on players born in the summer months, thus increasing retention of players in the game.

The FA admit that this is “the hardest concept to understand” but hope to get the grassroots community on-side for what they believe is a “world-leading” approach to this area of the game.

The times they are a-changing – tell us what you think!

These are exciting times for youth football in England so, if you haven’t already, please check out the FA’s recommendations.

Once you’ve read them, please tell us what you think.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the final proposals – what you like most and any concerns you may have.

If you have a question about the proposals that has not been answered by the documents, you can still email them to [email protected]. Your input to the whole process has been invaluable, as the FA recognise in a message on their website:

“How the proposals look today from where we started two years ago is very different and this has been down to the input from the grassroots game and we thank you wholeheartedly for that. We are very excited as to what the future holds for youth football as we move towards making the game even better for young people.”

You can follow Nick Levett on Twitter – and even provide feedback – at @nlevett.

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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102 Comments

  1. Craig on January 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    We at Buckhurst Hill FC in Essex have already started the planning for the age groups in birth years and as such have two Under 7’s for next season (2012/13), plus we have children already enjoying short coaching sessions for 2007 age group.

    Additionally we have waiting lists for 2008 & 2009 year groups. We are looking to get funding for new 9v9 goals and are planning to have mini soccer pitches for 5v5, 7v7 & 9v9 to complement our 11v11 pitches. We are fortunate to have the pitch space available, plus the backing of the committee and volunteers to implement the changes as quickly as needed.

    One issue we are seeing is that for the age group 2007 there are more children as it will run from September 2006 to December 2007. Again the older children born towards the end of 2006 are going to have an advantage over ones born in December 2007. There will be a lot more teams to cope with, especially at 5v5 when more volunteers and pitches will be needed.

    Currently we have 24 children being coached at that age, which for us equates to at least three teams plus a further 25 children on a waiting list. We do not judge the children on ability and can only offer spaces when someone leaves.

    http://www.bhfc.co.uk

  2. Scott Upton on January 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I personally think its a pile of pooh! No thought has been given to who is going to pay for all this additional equipment. it’s a vast sum, and it’s needed over a short period of time.

    The FA say that 500 teams have gone to 9v9 in Surrey and that they received a £10,000 grant from ‘Sport England’ to pay for this. That works out to just £20 a team!

    The FA propaganda has more holes in it than my local teams football pitch!

  3. Aaron lennon on January 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I do not agree about the ages, everyone in the country goes by school years, you’ll be making children play against children that are in a different school year.

  4. Nick L on January 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Re. Scott Upton

    Surrey Youth League is a 500-team league, but not all those play 9v9. The League applied for funding and paid for all the goals, offering them back out to the clubs therefore taking away the burden on them.

    Funding is available, as per the notes on the slideshow.

  5. Nigel on January 12, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Small sided games are the only way to go, in
    northern ireland we have been running this for 5 years already. Age groups are also by calender year not school year with no problems at all, as it is non competitive and if a kids ability suits a year younger then we play him. It is about playing football not winning leagues.
    You have to stop thinking of your own personal gains and work for the kids gains.
    I agree there is a massive problem with facilities for 5v5 to 9v9 and this is we’re all FA’s will need to get there cheque book out!!!
    Locally we make sure the council does this and remind them of the need for kids playing sport.

    N

  6. daz wilkie on January 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    ive asked nick levitt on several occasions to explain how he sees teams and clubs getting from 5v5 to 11v11 when most clubs struggle to get enough volunteers to run the sides we have know.
    how many 5 aside teams do they envisage each club having to start with to be able to carry enough players to get to 11 aside. the number of managers required will have to at least double for 5v5 or the amount of time an existing manager is at games will double.

    AND how on earth does the moving of age banding make the game any better at all you play in your school year its just natural y have kids playing across school years. i for the life of me do not see how this is a positive step

  7. martin dean on January 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I wonder if the people behind these decisons actually coach and manage grassroots teams if they did they would understand that the real problems lie with the acadamy’s who are to powerfull for them to touch.

  8. Sandra Grout on January 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Children like to play football with their friends. They usually go to school with their friends who are in the same class or year as themselves. They will not be able to play football with their friends if their friends are born in a different calendar year to them. I think using the existing school year age band is fine. I know how left out my son was when his “older” class mates could do things for say 8 year olds and he couldn’t join in until June.

  9. Jason Hope on January 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Surely we will just move the problem of children dropping out from Q4 (summer birthdays) to those with birthdays Oct-Dec.

  10. dpope on January 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Re: Jason

    The idea is that shifting the age groups means that summer-born kids aren’t the youngest in BOTH school football & grassroots (weekend) football.

    There will always be a youngest bunch in each group, but if you create two bias points (one in each form of the game) then you at least reduce the effects.

    Dan Pope
    CW editor

  11. Daniel Speller on January 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I just love all the recommendations especially those affecting primary aged children. The system as it stands is totally wrong. Every sunday morning just turns into over serious dads treating each game like it’s the FA cup final! It’s ridiculous. The poor kids aren’t learning cos they’re scared to make a mistake. There’s far too much pressure on them. I can’t wait for the changes to be made. My older son missed out but my younger son will play 9v9 at U11’s which is great. A full size pitch for U11’s has been a complete joke with the biggest kids dominating. No wonder we’re a long way from producing the next Lionel Messi here in England!!

  12. Andy Hollyhead on January 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

    You are always going to have issues when some kids are older than others within age groups .

    We are cateogorising everything by age and not necessarily abilty which is another factor.

    There are some players so gifted that they could play well above their age group .

    Its a tough one .

    I believe the move to 9 v 9 is a good step at under 11.

  13. Steve Ford on January 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I agree with everything except the ages, my players want to play with their friends and use it as a social event. it doesn’t matter if you go from Jan – Dec players will still be playing against players who are physically bigger. Keep the school years system it’s easy by changing it I know I’ll lose players and they will leave the game to play other sports

  14. Bobby Charlton on January 14, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    What a crock! The kids should compete with other children from their appointed school year. This has always been the way it is done, so why change it? Academic and sporting levels, should be kept on par, as they are being eductated from the same time in both disciplines, thus creating a level playing field. Why does the FA percieve, that by changing the current system it will benefit the kids, or the national game in any way.WISH I HAD MORE PAGE SPACE TO RANT!

  15. Kev on January 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I run a team of Under 10s they’ve been together since they were 7, if we change the age rules this would mean they couldn’t continue as they are because some were born before and after xmas. They are in the same schoolyear and this is how it should stay.

  16. Garry on January 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    The professional game has no real interest in grassroots football. The FA should be permanently split with grassroots football aministering the game for non professional clubs as currently there is a conflict of interest.

    When did Gareth southgate suddenly become an expert on grass roots football. The proposals have the potential to kill grassroots football and damage the incredible hard work that has been done by youth leagues that have in some cases 70 teams per age group. All the propaganda highlights beautiful 3G pitches with spray paint etc these proposals are not inclusive and in many run down areas grassroots may die altogether.

    Someone needs to brave enough to say enough is enough and challenge these ridiculous proposals that will destroy our game. who cares about the national team any way, the academies can do and always have done exactly what they like so why mess around with the format of our grassroots game.

    Why for such a monumental change have the member clubs not had the opportunity to vote? The reason is it would be voted down and they know it.

  17. Garry on January 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    By the way 20 years ago the FA were peddling the virtues of one Charles Hughes. Which just goes to show what a joke they are in thinking they know best. It is like a communist state when waht we need is diversity with the leagues able to choose the format based on the local needs and if it is a successful as the FA think then all will follow suit.

  18. David Froggatt on January 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Hows does forcing children to play against or with children of a different school year make for ptogress – Children will just lose confidence by playing against bigger & stronger players – CRAZY.

  19. Jon on January 16, 2012 at 12:46 am

    The proposal the FA are making are fantastic.

    My only thought from this is, I would have liked the 7 v 7 to run through to U13. My reasoning for this is 95% of students in the first two years of school cannot kick a ball with technique, this obviously includes many whom play for teams on a weely basis.

    Playing the shorter passing game will increase further time for development, as in Holand

    Jon
    PE Teacher & UEFA Licenced Coach

  20. Louis Stallman on January 16, 2012 at 2:19 am

    This is all completely irrelevant! The F.A are too engaged in the ‘structure’ of the game at grassroots rather than the biggest problem that it has had for years, regardless of the ages and competition structure… and that is that the standard and number of qualified coaches must be increased! And the courses made both more accessible and affordable! Once that is right and the future of English football is being coached properly, then you can decide if these re-structuring issues need to be addressed as an ADDITION to good coaching!!!

  21. Andy Lowe on January 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Can I ask who sits & decides these decisions regarding the developement of our beautiful game? obviously someone that has no idea what problems that changing the age banding will cause for the majority of junior teams. Why not address problems in football by putting some of the monies made at county level back in to football by helping develope coaches & clubs in the community areas making football more accessable financially for more kids & letting clubs attract people who want to help & develop the kids from a young age which will then develop the grass root base that the F.A keep banging on about.

  22. daz wilkie on January 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    ive just read through mr southgates comments again and the posts of concerned managers and club secretarys, why doesnt the fabulous clubwebsite organise a live televised debate with southgate/levitt in one corner and mr daz wilkie and concerned in the other. sky sports/ bbc/ itv could all be invited and we could have an actual debate, rather than lemmings just nodding at some road show.

    come MR stenson sur you guys could organise this

    • dpope on January 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Daz – a webchat has been discussed with the FA & is something we’d like to arrange at some point. Can’t promise that Sky/BBC will be too interested though!

  23. Simon Robinson on January 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    (Sighs)

    I really do appreciate the efforts of the guys creating these jobs for themselves (sorry, proposals for youth football), they are very misguided.

    Why would you want to stop kids playing with their mates from the same school year? Thats what half of them play for – to enjoy playing with their mates

    What happens to my u10s, who go 11 a side (on an appropriate pitch) next season, do you force them back to 9v9 the season after?

    Who is going to pay for all these pitches and markings? Its hard enough to find shared space now, without daft size pitches for each age group.

    Our councils are skint now, they will charge a fortune for all the extra work and maintenance!

    As somebody has mentioned, the main attendees of the roadshows are established clubs with super facilities, the ‘nodding dogs’ who approve all of this, and who can afford to pay for all the stuff

    Half of my kids are underpriveledged and are subsidised by the hard work of the volunteers (remember that word) who turn up every week regardless of the weather, who pay to go on courses for FA badges, CRBs, First Aid (and the rest of the money making racket) etc

    You honestly couldnt make it up – bring this stuff in for academies and the pro side of the game, leave the kids and coaches to enjoy grassroots football – Mini Soccer is fine as it is, the debate on 9v9 is valid until the kids move to 11s.

    Competition is good, leave the league structures alone and stop interfering!

    (My team are second bottom of our league by the way, it doesnt dimish our enjoyment or joy at picking up a point or a win! Even in defeat we praise good play and effort!)

    Some kids are better at football than others, some teams are better than others, a bit like life. The really good kids are picked up by academies and centres of excellence – make them follow your path, not the rest of us.

    Locally, there is a lot of chat in our leagues and as teams that should this become FA Law, many of us will arrange our own games and leagues outside of this, then you will lose control altogether. It shouldnt come to that.

  24. daz wilkie on January 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    hi dpope, i would have that thought that sky of all people would be very interested after all they do plough large amounts of money into our beloved sport and they do love controversy how many times do they need to show that a referee/third official got a decision wrong.

    ask them mate we might all get a suprise

  25. John Gilding on January 17, 2012 at 1:05 am

    See Simon Robinson comments. I agree with just about all of them.
    Kids in the same class suddenly can’t play football together because of the age change. Reason is crazy. There has to be a cut off somewhere so why change the present one which works in schools.
    Who pays for all these different size pitches and goals etc?

    7 a side up to age Under 12s is good. Smaller goals and skill encouraged. 9 a side on a 3/4 pitch with medium goals is good, still skill encouraged. When they progress to full size pitch and goals they are ready for proper football. Skill is encouraged at training sessions and comes through in skill on the pitch. Daughter played at Cobblers Cof E last season and training was excellent. Ruined by the coach during matches and when Cobblers lost Cof E status in FA cutbacks, a very good side was disbanded. Some to other CofEs with mega travelling at a time when they have GCSEs. Daughter back in grassroots football, enjoying it along with 3 other of last year’s Cof E players.

    Don’t let the FA screw up again….. Change for no reason. We need to encourage the kids in deprived areas as they have the desire and drive to succeed to improve their lot, as in the past with the Glasgow kids. Brilliant comitted footballers. Even they have gone soft now, look at Scottish football.

  26. scott elliott on January 17, 2012 at 1:27 am

    I think the changes are good but not to sure on the 5 v 5 at u7’s and 8’s.you are reducing the ammount of players/spaces a team needs to actually play.I know,you have roll on roll off in place for this which is a good thing but your reducing player game time. e.g..7v7,9 players per team..2 player rotational on/off all get good game time.5v5,9 players per team (not that a 5 v 5 team would go with 9 players but hey,I’m feeling generous) and 4 player rotation on/off….not so good.In essence bar the goalkeeper,each player plays just 1 half.If you feel 5 v 5 is that important at that age group then why not introduce an appropriate training session to incorporate this at grassroot level 1?

  27. Andy S on January 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Great news! The current focus at a junior level on winning at all costs favours the bigger (and often less skillful) players who can boot the ball further and harder, at the expense of the more skillful players. The 9v9 transition is particularly beneficial.

    This WILL help English football.

  28. Omar on January 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Its about time something is being done but countries like Germany implemented this years ago! The restults of our German freinds spoke for itself at the last World Cup. You did not need two year of consulting for that, what a waste. There is so MUCH more that needs to be done for England to produce quality players. I grew up on council estates and yet you still see signs ‘No Ball Games Allowed’, still this did not deter too many youngsters but there was no replacement venues for kids like us. I’ve seen so much talent go to waste becasue of English redtape. In most European countries you’ll find many football style cages built within parks for kids to use at no cost, yet here in England you’ll be lucky to find goal posts in the park. Well I suppose the only way we’ll know if this programmed has worked will be in about 20 years time! But please don’t stop what your doing, this is the first step there is a lot more that needs to be done. You live in a great multi-cultural society that has the talent and potential to produce some great English players.

  29. paul - Kent on January 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Youth Coach 7 years… Having looked at the proposals I tend to agree with them. Smaller goals and pitches with reduced players has to make sense. Nopublished league tables until u12s not quite convinced… BUT new age grouping, cannot understand. Just shifting advantage now to Jan – April born players and stopping classmates from playing in the same team.. Poor reccommendation.

  30. Harry on January 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Only concern is new AGE GROUPS.. u will have in the future primary school children playing in the same team as secondary school children. KEEP it simple and let school friends play in same teams. U will lose players by stopping them playing with friends in their class… Also in 2013/14 you will have Dec 2006 born children having to start as u8s when only 6yrs 8mths… This will be a 16 month age band for these players always.. Watch this age group drop out in droves. Please see sense FA and keep school years…. Other proposals I agree with…

  31. Graham B on January 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Having been involved in junior football now for over 17 years & currently president of a club with 17 teams from U7 to adult whilst being secretary for a facility provider which currently has to accommodate in excess of 40 teams of those age groups of both male and female gender, I am having difficulty in seeing how all of the suggested amendments can be accommodated .
    We are privileged to have sufficient land to put football on in its current format, but to try and accommodate 9v9 on junior pitches which are currently set up for age groups 11 to 14 @ 11v11 is wrong. We cannot reduce the size of these pitches without incurring huge costs, so you have to ask less players per match to cover more ground,
    quite how this can be good for the development of our wonderful game is beyond me.
    I know that on the continent they play the year born age grouping but for me this impedes development as you will always have school age groups and the younger players within the birth year will always suffer due to maturity that comes from school age group development, so for me once again the Southgate proposals have considerable flaws.

  32. Jason Steer on January 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Who have the FA really asked here? Kids who have been playing together at school (and in other sports) would have to be separated. teams would have to disband. Can’t understand the logic of calendar ages.

    If the FA REALLY want to get more kids involved:

    1) Put a mid season break in place and extend the season at grass roots level. This would ensure kids play in better weather conditions, on better pitches, pitches themselves wouldn’t have to suffer from excessive use during winter. The advantages are numerous. The only disadvantage is the age old issue of cricket. Well, get real FA, football is 20x bigger than cricket in terms of participation, etc.

    2) Improve the standards of coaching. The FA seem to be losing focus on this. Please try harder and divert some of the cash into developing and improving coaching at grass roots level.

    3) Facilities. We are, as a nation, bursting at the seams with a lack of facilities and decent playing surfaces at grass roots. Money needs to be invested into maintaining these facilities and providing better pitches and this, in conjunction with the government, should be the FA’s priority.

    4) Please reconsider the proposal on age groups. It makes no sense, breaks up teams and doesn’t align with school years. How will this really make our game better, all the letters seems to be saying the same.
    Just changing age groups, making younger teams play 5 aside, extending 9 aside, is just skirting round the real issues that need addressing.

    Well done the FA, you have just wasted a fortune that could have been put to better use elsewhere and simply doesn’t address or identify with the real world of grass roots youth football. You should have made it compulsory for clubs to complete a survey via their county FA to get a real response and then you would have got the real answer we needed to improve our game.

  33. Granville Marriott on January 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I manage an U8 team in Barnsley. We are lucky in a sense that we have 3 teams at this age group alone and 32 players registered at this group.

    However I can guarantee once the new age struture comes in this would not happen again. The reason for this is when we recruited from schools we had groups of friends from school who knew each other and came because their friends were coming. We decided that teams would be structured where friends from schools were together and not on ability. We do not have an A, B, or C team as they are mixed ability but they are not driven by winning but playing with and for their friends.

    This new age structure being proposed from my prospective will stop players joining has they can’t be with their friends, yet they will in the school team (that is if they decide to do so). This would mean a loss of potential talent (which is why we are looking at developing youth football).

    Secondly I can see teams and clubs folding as recruiting for new players will be a night mare. Leaflets for advertisement are not cheap but you will double the cost as two year groups are required. It is also confusing as now I would advertise for year 3. These new guidelines I would have to say to young children as long as you are born between these dates you can play.

    This will also cause upset as I can guarantee there will be children who think they can play, turn up for training but will unfortunately be turned away for being too young/old but see thier friends play.

    Cloud cuckoo land if the FA think that this is practical, children won’t be affected, numbers playing won’t be reduced, clubs will not struggle to maintain coaches players (especially small clubs) etc.

    Get real and no wonder we struggle as a nation when we have ideas like this develop.

    I will finish with a positive I like the new structure in 9v9 etc as long as the FA will be helping to fund the cost of pitches for clubs as councils will transfer the costs to the clubs during the economic downturn.

  34. Martin on January 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    The concept of 9v9 is positive but the non-competitive angle is questionable. Will schools also cease to grade children based on ability or cease to hold exams?
    For the 2012/13 season I understand that 9v9 is voluntary, surely when the teams come together at u14’s the side that has already had 2 years of playing 11v11 will have an advantage? It should be all or nothing.

  35. Sajj Akram on January 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    A bunch of fools trying to put the blame on grass roots instead of the academies and the overpaid footballers in this country! Ive been coaching 11 years and changing the age group is the most ridicilous thing ive heard

    Also, the FA are full of it! They had select coaches and clubs involved in discussions…namely FA coaches who dont have their own teams!

  36. Tony Wood on January 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    As I have read this and been explained this will only affect new teams at the start of the 2013/14 season (children born in 2006 or younger) the FA do not want to distrupt existing teams however it appears that Leagues may read into this and enforce this changes through all levels but they do NOT need to do this they too can just enforce this for new teams of the 2013/14 season and leave all the others alone.

  37. Tony Wood on January 22, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    PLEASE READ THE FA RESPONSE TO NEW AGE

    Q. Will you change existing teams?
    A. No. There will be no changes to any existing teams. It will be phased in like the other changes and
    therefore the children in those teams will just have that set of friends for football, effectively not
    knowing a different system. Where they have made the change in other countries, they have found
    they have increased participation and the children have been absolutely fine. Other countries have
    split school/club football and have had no negative impacts.

  38. Ian. F on January 23, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I have been helping to run a Grass Roots club for 8 years now.
    Just like everyone else in our area, not one club that we have spoken to was asked for their input or opinions on these matters, once again it feels that at grass roots level, the F.A. have forgotten to ask the people who are actually the most qualified (regardless of the Coaching Badge Level) to answer their questions because if they had, then they would realise in no uncertain terms that their ideas of changing the age groups is possibly the most preposterous yet & will turn quite a lot of youngsters away.
    Once again it would appear that the FA are blindly following our European counterparts, remember a few years ago that it was all about playing ‘The Dutch’ way? This is how ‘mini’ soccer came about and now it is all about ‘The Barcelona & Spain’ way?
    The kids who will be playing in the playgrounds together and for their Schools together will suddenly not be eligible to play on the same team on a Sunday! This has got to be the most half baked scheme yet!

    The idea of 9v9 in my personal opinion is long, long overdue, it is the natural progression from 7 a side before going to 11 a side. Professional Academies have been playing 9v9 for a long time now as it is a natural progression.

    5v5 Small sided football needs to be left long in the past as it is almost farcical watching u7 & u8’s who are still learning the game, trying to take corners for example…for the attacking team, 1 player stays in goal, 1 stays back to defend, 1 takes the corner leaving 2 players in ‘The area’ leaving a 5v2 scenario! Really!? Most Premiership clubs would not even attempt those odds on a corner yet we expect 6 & 7 year old children to not only do it but also score!!! Is this really teaching them the game?

    Obviously the F.A. will be giving overly generous financial support to purchase the extra goal posts that we will all need and also be offering financial support to help get the pitches resized and in many places relocated to new sites whilst offering compensation to the clubs who have purchased 21×7 posts in the last 12 months that will now pretty much become defunct…

  39. Adrian S. on January 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Have got to agree with Ian F. comments above. 5v5 Small sided football is farcical using standard football rules. Most dead ball situations (Corners, thrown-ins, free-kicks, etc) just become silly. I can understand the idea that we need the children to have more possesion of the ball, less running about without a ball at their feet but to effectively move to a 5v5 format also needs rule changes to remove stop dead ball situations. The problem then is that the children will feel the game is not ‘proper’ football as seen on the TV.

  40. jo chamberlain on January 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Why change the age range kids football when the pitch, and lack of toilets and changing rooms should be addressed if the FA want to improve this game. We were told that we would all be fined if our kids had to go to toilet in the bush. After travelling to away matches with no facilities, playing 35 mins of football each way, extra time then penalties. In total left house 3 half hours before. My son who is a goalie had to play with a full bladder. After the game we then witnessed six dogs and owners go straight onto pitch and some dogs went to toilet. Nice. The FA is quick to.penalise but I would like to know when someone will address this matter.

  41. Peter Hucker on January 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    agree with the majority
    been running teams for 20 years (we have around 25 teams per season from u7 – u16)
    the FA only have interests in themselves not the kids
    Im sick and tired of being told what to do by people who have absolutely no interest or idea of what my 400 + players want.
    They want to enjoy themselves and if we played 20 v 20 they would, because of the atmosphere we create.
    If it isn’t fun……………it isn’t football.
    We introduced a system of no bookings and no sendings off in our league. encouraging a system that if a player deserved to be off the pitch the ref would order the coach to replace him so as not to harm the rest of his team mates. As such their were no fines, you should have heard the uproar from our FA all they cared about was how much revenue they would lose out on. I was fined £10 for not putting a full stop on a result card for a cup game !!!!!!!!!!
    Its all they are interested in as for 9-a-side there are no smaller pitches where we are, so our games are played on 11 – a-side pitches. by 40 minutes ALL the players are so tired any technique we teach goes completely out of the window.
    Its about time we the real people of grass roots football rose up and took our game back. Let the professional clubs cream our best players off and turn them into FA robots (as they do now) but leave the rest of us to enjoy the game.
    By the way I have NEVER seen a match that was not competetive (at any age group) whether the FA tell us it is or not

  42. leigh ashworth on January 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Our local league has been implementing some of these ideas over the last couple of years, I currently run an u8s team and assit an u11s team, our u8s played 5v5 at u7s indoor and are now playing 6v6 indoor and 7v7 outdoor with the season split 60/40 indoor and outdoor, our u11s are palying 9v9. And to be honest everyone of these changes has had its positives, the use of indoor facilities has been great, our 7s and 8s have been playing football all through DEC and now into JAN where the other age groups are off. There rae a couple of points though that I think when our league hails this approach as a success are missed and really need to be part of our focus. The use of good facilities is paramount to development football, I do not believe that playing on 20 degree incline pitches Knee deep in mud helps anyone, the FA needs to help develop better facilities up and down the country, the second point is our insistance on not looking at the blindingly obvious point of taking winter breaks, why on earth do we insist on sending kids out in the depths of winter to play on pitches that are being torn apart, has anyone ever tried to play a pass and move style game on a mud bath.

    One thing that has worked really well has been development games mixed with three week cup style competitions, when i look at past seasons with our u11s often there are teams taht by the haly way point have nothing to play for and i can imagine some of the interest level is hard to maintain.

    As clubs we need help on getting grants and funding for ground development projects and equipment, the ideas of smaller sided games are good but it requires more coaches and more equipment all of which cost money. If th emoney comes then most items seem godd ideas.

    On the age section to be quite honest it is shifting the problem the reason for this is that although the FA is saying for schools it will stay the same so each system will support the other , the investment in scholl football is pretty poor, my eldest was not even allowed to play for his scool until year 5 and has maybe played for 3 months each year, school football is wofelly managed and does nothing to develop kids. What needs to change is our approach to spotting kids with talent, I had approaches from a number of premiership sides to take some of our kids to development centers and I am always amazed that they never ask for the dates of births of any of the kids all they seem to see is the big kids, i even had one guy loose interest in one of our kids because his parents were too small. I am also continually disappointed with the lack of lower league club involvement in grass roots, I never see any scouts other than premiership scouts at our games and to be honest they just seem to treat the kids as a commodities, this just results in the talent been wisked off behind closed doors at premiership clubs to spend there footballing careers warming benches round the country, we need to get more of our talent playing in the leagues long term, how i am not sure, but todays systems is not working

  43. Andy Harland on January 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    As an under 13’s coach fortunatley the upcoming changes will not effect us but my deepest commiserations to those that they will.
    Whilst the transition from 6 aside on a 60 x 30 pitch up to 11 aside on a full size pitch was daunting to say the least it went without hitch.
    The reason for this was we ran 2 equally balanced 6 aside teams with 1 – 2 subs per team so the progression up from 6 to 11 aside meant we had a 15 player squad each playing a role in the new 11 aside team and ith equal playing time.
    The problem I forsee it there wil be too many step ups in player numbers with the end result of not having enough players and teams folding or having an abundabce of players at 9 v 9 level and the average player dropping out due to spending too much time on the subs bench whilst the better players get to play the full game, because lets all face up to it that is what WILL happen. Despite what the FA seem to think we all want to win even a 6 year old.

  44. Allen on January 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    For me its long overdue, to review the foundation of the game. Of course it looks different from where everyone stands. If you think you have the next Pele or Messi, or if you want you kids to enjoy and engage the great game.

    Smaller sided matches seem good, to encourage more engagement. Although it would seem that 5×5 might be too small outdoors. Perhaps this is more suited to futsal indoors..?

    Either way i’m no expert and i have not got the information at my disposal that the FA gained to make this road map.

    But i do applaud the desire to change, and from change we stimulate thought, perhaps the main element that helps improve things.

  45. Diff Robinson on January 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Great idea for the kids I think but the motives are the same as ever. ie There’s got to be a way for us to win the World Cup! “Following repeated failures by the senior team at major championships” I quote. If you want some kind of formula for producing a winning England team you had better start another World War and introduce rationing. Playing football doesn’t put kids off playing football , it’s the coaches. The number of times I hear about “I don’t get paid for this” and “I give up my time to do this”. Then without any embarrassment they award their own kids “Player of the Day” or “Man of the Match”. My advice would be to any parent to check out the coaches at the club and you have a better chance of a level playing field if they don’t have kids in the squad.

  46. Mrs S on January 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I have two children involved in football at grass routes and to be honest don’t understand it fully but the kids enjoy it and thats all that matters. With regards to the age thing apart from it being ridduculas does anyone realise that there will be one year with no kids in. The first age group will pull kids from the school year 1st Sep till 31st August whereas the next age group will only pull kids from 1st Sep until 31st Dec, how will that work??

  47. Andy Harland on January 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Just as a side note how do you think a secondary schoolchild would feel like playing with a junior school child, the transition from junior to secondary school is a major event in a childs life and the FA ae now mocking it, Please FA get a grip……………………………….

  48. Bromley Removal on January 26, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Defiantly you are saying right, for kids when they join school is the new stage, when they enter primary to secondary that’s another stage of their life, although their life change with the change in stage, but their minds also built and grow with that change,

  49. tim watson on January 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    re comment about secondary school kids playing with junior school kids,
    erm without being rude do you actually do anything in football this scenario has always been available under the 2 year age gap rule a team playing at u12 can sign and very often do sign u11’s i myself am running my own u16 with 2 u15 in the team, i also do little league on saturdays and our teams are made up of 2 age age groups split evenly of banthams u7/u8 juniors u9/u10 intermediates u11/u12 and seniors u13/u14 little league is over 40 years old and works very well, 9v9 is a good thing and the reduced size goals will help keep the goalies from being dismayed and overwhelmed when moving up 12×6 goals having managed in football for 25 yrs on saturdays and 15 yrs on sundays i know this is a good thing

  50. jeff on February 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    In one gesture we have seen today why the national team will never win anything and this has been true for years. Mr J Terry will face racism charges after the final of the European Championships INCREDIBLE. I feel sure that in the circumsatnces he will perform to his very best at the Euros? he wouldnt even be in my squad. You just cant play proffesional sport unless you are 100% focused on that alone, ask Tiger Woods the greatest golfer who ever lived , who after his trials and tribulations couldnt even hit the golf ball for over a year.

  51. Alan Greenwood on February 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Can some one explain to me why due to recent and ongoing racism incidents the FA road show continues with the new format for youth football. On respect both teams are to shake hands now a joke FA cancel one others pros do not shake hands what does this send out to young impressionable players.
    Should we not start in the Scudamore,s untouchables to kick them in to shape?
    The ESFA will still operate on a 31st August DOB cut off period and mostly playing 11 v 11 games why is there so much difference between the different codes?
    Nick Levitt in Lancashire on the 28th and 29th March to tell some of us for the third time the benefits of the movement within the rules of the FA, may fall asleep this time round.

  52. pete on February 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I run an U9s team which is in a two team league. I have 21 players. I had been planning on having a squad of 16 – 18 for 11 a side for U 11s. ( allowing for 2-3 kids leaving over the next 1 1/2 years.) If I go 9 a side it will mean me having to have a squad of 14 which means I am going to have to get rid of players which I do not want to do however cannot commit more time to run 2 teams and do not forsee extra coache coming in to help.
    I am not against changes however 5 a side is fine in principle but means coaches will have to turn kids away as not enough volunteers to run all these extra teams
    As for changing the age groups its a stupid idea if you ask me
    These proposals need looking at again and they need to ask coaches at grass route level first before changing due to England having a poor world Cup

  53. Ross on February 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    The small sided games are a good idea.
    Now the age change is a joke. Kids go to school with their friends and build up lasting bonds with this group. Whether a child is 11months 30 days younger or not they see each other day to day and play football and other sports with them.
    You’re now taking Sept – Dec kids and putting them with an older school year. This won’t work and I’ve already had comments back from my U11’s that if this came in they wouldn’t want to play with the kids in the school year above. Very often there is competition between the years at school and this is going to highlight the issue and some kids will feel isolated and will pack football in. All the conflicts in my school year we’re with the year above or below. We’re meant to be doing this for the kids enjoyment at the end of the day not to win the World Cup, although that would be nice. It can’t be the priority. The priority has to be getting the kids to play football with their friends, which funny enough are the kids they go to school with and are in their year.
    All your doing is moving the problem to another part of the year being the Sep – Dec lot and alienating the younger kids who don’t have friends in the school year above.

    My school team used to be our local team, and we learnt over many seasons how each other played and became a very strong side. This will go against that and have a detrimental effect on the game in schools and park football.

    Is it really broken that much that we need to change it. As I say the small sided games is a great idea but lets not change everything until we can gauge the progress the small sided changes has made.

  54. Rosemary on March 1, 2012 at 12:22 am

    As Club Secretary of teams who play on Council pitches I’d like to know, in the current climate of massive cutbacks in all areas of Local Government, where the money is going to come from to procure the smaller ‘age sensitive’ goals. Marking out lines for different pitch sizes could also mean extra committment from Council groundsmen, who already struggle. On one pitch you could have 2 games each Sunday, where the goals have to be altered inbetween matches. It means extra time to do that therefore extra time & wages. Not all Council pitches are ‘staffed’ on matchdays – who changes the goals if necessary?

    If you’re a club with your own home base, funds are available. That’s one luxury many teams don’t have.

    Schools will also be helped, but nothing about Councils.

  55. JOHN on March 1, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Surely moving to 2007’s etc, rather than school age, just moves the problem from July.August born kids to Nov-Dec born kids. Playing for the same school team, but not on a sunday – that just breads confusion, and causes problems , as a lot of teams are based around schools

    As a chairman of a club, the FA did not consult us at all to ask us if there was even a problem that need fixing. We only have 2 teams – the 9×9 last year ( for only 1 team) cost us £200 for the goals , for one season – as a small club we can not afford this additional expense.

  56. BJ on March 1, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Girls football in particular will be damaged by the decision to play in calendar year groups rather than school years. Participation will drop as girls want to play football with their friends from their school social groups. To encourage girls along to clubs they need to be able to socialise with their friends. Whilst some will play no matter what if the FA want participation numbers to remain high they need to think about the reasons why children play football. The FA themselves have conducted surveys which prove friends and socialising is high on the list as to why girls and boys football.

    The relative age effect is relative! It will only shift the age problem to effect different months. The FA argument is that playing in school age groups at schools balances this but frankly this is rubbish – most children do not play enough football at school for this to be the case.

    It was clear from the ‘consultation process’ that The FA had already made their decision and they have not listened to the Grassroots clubs or the local people in the know.

  57. Adrian Johnson on March 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    After meeting several people from the FA and other organisations. I think that the FA has missed the most vital part of this, i can see they want to improve player technical side, but reducing the size of the teams will be beneficial, but i have found that in youth football, Mini soccer was good, but it had its time consuming.
    So if the FA reduces the size of teams, do they increase the time of the game? If a squad has 10 players and the game is 20 minutes, thats roughly 2 minute each player. Each game should be divided into 4 quarters, therefore each player has more game time.

    I don’t think the changing the team sizes, when the time remain the same and as we all know Mini soccer is time consuming and putting all the goals and the time you start a game, just for 20 minutes or so?
    Training is much longer, but the games remain shorter!

    Its more that the players need to playing more and if the teams are reduced then the size of the teams will increase, then the less time for the players.
    Mini soccer should be split into 4 quarters and then the players will play more and in fact it will be like 2 games, rather than 1.

  58. Bob H on March 2, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I sat through one of Nick Levitt’s earlier presentations and must admit it was very professional.
    However, we weren’t really given opportunities to respond on the night and it was only afterwards that I, and probably others, realised there were serious problems with the proposals.
    I cannot see councils marking out extra pitches and it is not practical to mark out two smaller pitches across a full size 11-a-side pitch using the goal line as the sideline. There’s a slight problem of metal goalposts being in the way!!
    Which brings me on to the problems of 3/4 size goals. They can’t be left erected on a pitch being used for full 11-a-side games for obvious reasons, so who is going to erect them and take them down. Who is going to transport them to matches. Not many managers have long wheelbase Transits.
    The other main problem I foresee is the change of age grouping. Others have said about children wanting to play with their school friends, especially girls. This is very true and the change will just move the problem to another part of the year and will do nothing to encourage children to stay in the game.
    Having seriously considered Mr Levitt’s presentation, I am of the opinion that the FA had virtually made up their mind and were just playing lip service to youth football.

  59. Chris Horton on March 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I went to one of the roadshows held just outside Cambridge. It was superb. I find the ideas innovative, encouraging and exciting. Long overdue I believe. The Oz’s call us “winging POMS” and from some of the comments I’ve read they don’t appear far wrong. These ideas are not untried, rushed nor being forced through. Clearly thought, research and consultation has taken place. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I say embrass these changes, adopt and implement them for the benefit of the children playing football and lets see where we are in a few years after there implementation. Can you honestly say we have childrens football right at the moment? I don’t think so nor does the evidence suggest we have. Do you embrass change or are you embarrassed by change? Your comments will reveal your true colours.
    The only reservation I have is the year changes. Parents have mentoned to me that their children wish to play with their school friends which this change may prevent. How has Holland (who have been doing this for years)etc dealt with this issue? It would be interesting to know.
    All in all though, come on! Bring it on, for Harry, England & St. George!

  60. Level 1 Coach on March 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    The current system needs a complete overhaul, and in theory the proposed changes sound excellent. What I never fail to find staggering, however, is the FA cannot seem to fix some of the most basic problems with kids football.

    An example ? – the FA want more people to become coaches, so why do they wait until the season has already started to run the majority of level 1 courses ?. I’ve experienced two weekends of fixtures having to be cancelled early into the season because the team coach was doing his/her level 1, when they really needed to do it within weeks of the previous season ending.

    I managed to scrape into a level 1 course last June, but if I’d not managed to I’d have had to plan for the start my teams new season without the knowledge that I’d gained by taking the course, and would have had to wait until October or later to do it – the worst time of year to be doing a coaching course !!

    We need coaching courses that are all ready to start in April thru to August – or are the FA concerned that would conflict with their tutors cricket matches……??

    WAKE UP FA !! – PRACTISE WHAT YOU PREACH – AND BRING SOME COMMON SENSE INTO GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL !!

  61. steve reid on March 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    These changes are too radical,and are being phased in much too quickly.
    some points are valid,ie pitch size/goal size.
    surely this is all that needs to be addressed insteead of completely changing the format.getting kids to play 7v7,then 9v9 then again to 11v11.
    surely consistency is the key not constant change.

  62. steve reid on March 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

    This cant happen yet, Realistically what will happen is teams of nine 10/11 year olds playing on full size pitches,all too tired after 10 minutes of play so resorting to just kicking aimless balls.
    where is the improvement ?
    back to the drawing board fa…….

  63. Gregory Iszchak on March 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    In order to really promote a new way of doing things we should stick with 7aside till under 16s. As the children grow, yet the pitch remains the same size, players will have to become more technical as the space decreases. Even 9aside is too big.

    Going to 11aside too soon means we promote a game of kick and run football where the best players are 6 foot 12 year olds. This way we would encourage football played on the floor and, as those children become adults, we would see a generation of footballers who can play intricate football, like in Spain and Holland.

    In order to develop the individual they need more touches on the ball. At 7aside, you are one of 12 outfield players as opposed to 1 of 20. The basics of 7aside football as to pass accurately, work hard when you don’t have the ball and to move into space to receive. The basics of 11 aside are just the same. However, they are better developed at 7aside.

    The age change makes no real difference. Currently those born September – December have the advantage as they are the older players. Now the advantage will be with those born in January-April. Although schools football will run on the old age scheme, it never is as competitive as weekend football and will not make a huge difference.

    The real advantage to the ages is that they will enable the summer-based league. It makes sense to play games in the hot months and be able to train at local parks in the evenings rather than paying for floodlit training.

  64. L.Rogers on April 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    i don’t disagree with the way forward but my son and his friends are going to start playing 11v11also some team will start playing 9v9 for the same year U11’s (which alone is confusing) which after playing for a season they will find their places on the pitch come next season 13/14 some of the team will have to leave due to the year they were born. The FA needs to start it all sooner rather than later i agree it is a cost implication to clubs but i do think its for the better, as i feel that my sons side will find it hard next season on a 11 v11 pitch as they are so use to playing on a 7 v 7 pitch.

  65. Andy S on May 1, 2012 at 8:55 am

    The FA should have made the start of the year April and that would have meant the the football year overlaps with the school year by 6 months, which would have spread the age effect more evenly. As it is August born children are 11-12 months younger than the oldest children in school and 7-8 months younger than the eldest in the football year, so you will still get an age effect against Summer-born children.

    However, minor quibble aside,the proposals are long overdue and very very welcome.

  66. robert pearce on May 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Any plan to split a school year group by the time of year they were born is fraught with dangers. England Hockey did the same with December 31st as the cut off date so that the pre dec 31st played in the cohort born in the previous 12 months and those post dec 31st played in the cohort born in the next 12 months.
    RESULT-almost complete disintegration of youth teams as players were NOT playing with their year group friends-DISASTER.

  67. robert pearce on May 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    As a PE teacher trained in the 1960’s I have advocated small sided games for 40 years-well done but they should be continued up to under 15’s.

  68. Ed gee wing on August 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I coach a mini football team in Cardiff and we’ve been playing small sided games as set out by the FAW for a few years now. It really does promote more ball time for every player, even those with less ability rather than in bigger sided games when the less gifted rarely touch the ball and more often than not lose all interest pretty quick. It’s also easier to communicate as a coach with fewer players on a smaller pitch and works perfect in training…. If you have a squad of 10 to 14 it’s easy to split for training and match days if you have a reliable helper, balancing the teams into equal abilities yet again promotes player confidence and enjoyment hence improvement, which is what we all want. In Wales we play 4v4 at U7 with no goalie,
    5v5 at U8 with goalie and so on. One proposal I can’t get my head around is shifting the age parameters to calendar years, this in my opinion is a step backwards and I’m sure players will be lost from grassroots football, there may be some great theoretical planning in this that’s going to change Englands future world chances, but we must all remember that football is there to be enjoyed by everyone and not Used as a tool to create the worlds best players!!!

  69. Craig on September 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Its all ok making these changes from 2013-14 season we run under 7s team already that are playing friendly games this season just getting used to rules 6 a side on pitch now we are going to change to 5 a side ???
    I HAVE 12 players so i have to stand down 2 players each week next season to have 10 players equal game time 2 half’s each equal game time ??
    as for the age thing dont agree with that at all kids go to school together play outside of school together this is where they get there team spirit !

  70. Craig on September 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    So after reading it all again !!
    From next season 2013/14
    Under 7s will be year 2007 and play 5v5
    And follow though the year to 2014/15 as 5v5
    Next season under 8 will still be under 8 not in year but school year and will play 7v7

  71. billy nglis on September 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    5v5 spot on at the early ages

    7v7 spot on for next stage

    9v9 spot on for pre 11s

    11v11 at u13 in all above stages increase team size,pitch size,game time,and,,,goal size

  72. M knight on October 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I think the f.a are right on the mark when it comes to the age affect I see this right thought the game with clubs picking the September born kids for teams because they do have a big advantage over kids born later good they are addressing this problem couldn’t come sooner if u ask me

  73. Andy Venn on October 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Total rubbish our club at under 11`s will have players from primary school playing in the same side as players from high school. If it isn`t broke don`t fix it. Kids want to play the game all this “none competitive can`t put scores or names in local papers”. All other sports you play for something cricket,rugby,chess,darts,gymnastics, I think you will have loads of kids lose intrest. This will ruin football. To many old people with high paid jobs. Let kids be kids

  74. Andy on October 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Also having 5 a-side games clubs will need double the amount of teams, more signing on fees per team as more clubs ( ie Reds blues, A , b, sides), so more money given to the already money grabbing FA. HELP KIDS, DONT JUST TREAT THEM AS A WAY OF MAKING EASY MONEY FOR OLD CLUELESS OLD CODGERS WHO HAVE CUSHTY LITTLE DESK JOBS ……YOUTH FOOTBALL WILL BE DESTROYED IN A FEW YEARS……..

  75. paul brearley on November 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    i have a player in my u13 team who was born on 30/8 /99 which means he should play in the u14 how ever he has been playing for me for 3 years now at u13 coz this is what year he is in at school now the fa have noticed there mistake and said because of 24 hours he’s not aloud to play football with his school mates and the team he has been with for 3 year this is the first season his mum has been able to leave him with us because he has confodance issuse’s so thers no way he would go and play in a team where he doesn’t no anyone so this change would be good for someone like this

  76. Will on February 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I run a Under 8’s team and am concerned that the FA has got it wrong by making 2013/14 non competitive. Coaches work hard to develop their teams and ensure that players are progressing. It is just as important as the number of players on the pitch that the kids are playing against teams that are at the right level for them. I am proud to say we have a pretty good team and I was looking forward to seeing where we were in the scheme of things. The problem is by taking away a league structure coaches just tend to play the same old teams they have in their address books, week in and week out. This does not allow players and coaches to see what other teams are doing and stunts development. Also if you are a good team, other teams will actively avoid taking a fixture! A league system is put in place so that each child is playing at the correct level. If no one knows if the team you are playing is at a similar point in their development, then you are going to get more 15 nil results and not less!! In addition a coach could beleive their kids were really developing only to find out 3 years down the line that they are way of the pace. This begs the question does no league matches = No football Scouts? Potentially you could lose out on stars of the future as their early development was not looked after.

  77. gary woods on February 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Surely there is still a possible 12 month age gap between eligible players so managers could just start picking the Jan to June players which is the same as saying they now pick the September to February born player?

  78. mick on February 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    just found out last night that the walsall league have told me next season under 9s will be only friendies only we allways look forward win or loose this season is a turning table for clubs accross the uk. we will only getting parents up and think how well its only a friendly if we 2-1 goal or loose 2-1 .this will be very boring .

  79. Gregory Iszchak on February 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Just want to agree with Andy about the FA being out for money. Making it smaller sided for longer is great for football but it is totally about more money.

  80. terry on March 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I think the fa missed a trick here why did they not make the 5v5 format the same as futsal that way we could always move in doors when the weather stops us playing – kids just want to play – sure they prefer to win but they move on – unlike the adults. I think the fa and the county fa`s need to embrace futsal – we shoudn`t be deciding were kids are to play at such a young age. Small pitches, 5v5 attack together and defend together if its good enough for the top footballing nations then lets get on and do it.

  81. Stewart on March 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Another thing the FA have overlooked.
    I am in my 3rd season coaching now U10 football.
    I have passed both Youth Modules 1&2 as well as Level 1.
    The main point in the courses was that the children were having fun whilst learning .
    Why is it then that most of the playing season is in our worst weather conditions, rain, wind, minus degrees temperatures?
    Pitches that resemble a mud bath, the goalkeepers shivering, children crying.
    Where’s the fun in that?
    How can they enjoy and learn the beautiful game at an early age if they are not enjoying themselves ?
    Winter break?
    My 6 year old boy played a match in wet, cold conditions with tears rolling down his face.
    It came as no surprise when after the game he said he didn’t want to play football no more!

  82. Edward Wyatt on April 6, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I have been involved with youth football for nearly 40 years.The proposal for change to 9v9 football for u11 and u12′ s is a very good idea,I advocated this many years ago but many so called experts poo pood the idea.However the proposed change to mini soccer is I feel wrong,it should stay in its present format which has stood the test of time.The one thing I think the FA should take a long look at is the practise of youth players playing for two diferent teams over a weekend ie one on Saturday and one on Sunday,plus the fact that the majority also play midweek for their School teams.Plus they are training at least three times during the week with their respective teams.So all in all they are involved 6 days aweek.The big downside to all this is many of the players suffer burn out before thay are 15 years of age.I have seen over the years many many young players leave the game suffering BURN OUT.Please could the FA TAKE alook at this problem.Many thanks Ted Wyatt

  83. stuart on April 16, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I know this doesn’t have anything to do with FA but i am a 14 year old boy that is looking for a football club around Bristol.

  84. Ady on April 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Just signed up to u11s league.but have 4 nine year olds who have been with me over the last four season,now I,ve been told that there are not able to play due to age restriction.surly it’s age discrimination.

  85. Rob Pooley on April 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I manage an U9s team which will be U10s next year, what is the rule on ball size for this as there have been changes on this but not all leagues have implemented

  86. Michelle Murray on May 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I run an u8s team we have 2 players we have had all season now being told they may not beable to play for us next season & basically find another team is not a nice concept. Why allow them to form bonds & friendships then take it away? Surely this is more likely to knock their confidence. They havent struggled playing with us in the slightest & at 7 & 8 I am afraid this will make them think they are not good enough. Don’t change the rules & break bonds teams & friendships.

  87. ANDREW on June 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I have coached a under 8’s team who will become a under 9’s team 2013/14,and to be honest I am confused. Will these kids be able to stay in this team now and into the future, or will that depend on birthdays.
    In this team we also have a player from the school year below, will he be able to continue in this age group this season and into the future??

  88. Steve H on June 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Is this purely a comment leaving site or does someone come back and answer your question ?! everyone is asking questions and there are no answers which would be a lot more helpful. I am in a similar boat to others who have underage players who want to play for their local club but apparently can’t…

  89. Bec on June 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Does anyone know whether the relative age effect is still going ahead?

    Thanks

  90. Ian LANGTHORP on July 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Trying to convince parents that moving up an age group will no longer be allowed ,regardless of ability . You cannot play for an upper age group according to the new FA guidelines.

  91. Arnaud on July 12, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Like many others here, I have only just discovered that playing up a year regardless of ability is no longer allowed and am at a loss at this last-minute decision. I’m standing to lose one of my (best) players because of this, as well as a coach (his dad). I can’t see how this will benefit the child either, because he is miles ahead in terms of development compared to the children of his age group, so I’m guessing he will stagnate and not develop any further next season…

  92. antony on July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Could you clarify for me please. if an Under 9
    Goalkeeper, can at anytime, drop-kick a ball
    during the game?

    Regards,

    Antony Nicholson

  93. kev edgar on July 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Where any of these so called surveys take from single parent families of which I am sure there are many thousands in this country. This policy is in complete contravention of equality for a section of society and it’s staggering. What about the single mum who has 2 boys one under 7 or born 2006 and one under 8 born 2005. At a push she may be able to get both of those kids in the same team which would make perfect logistical, financial and social sense. Yet the F.A. seem to think they have a right to basically say those two kids can’t play for through same team. Why? Why? Give me one reasonable response that makes any logical as to why those two Kids can’t play in the same team? Basically that parent may be forced into a situation to say neither can play because he or she knows they couldn’t get to 2 different places or matches and so doesn’t want to upset either child. The rule is completely impractical and basically discriminatory in my opinion. It’s not good enough. Get in the real world.

  94. robert on July 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    what are you doing????
    this new rule is completely confusing and is sooo stupid I cant put into words. I can completely understand if the players is too old and is massive and dominating a league because they are bigger than everybody on the pitch, but what if they are too young, but still good enough, I will lose 4 players to this rule. to me their age has no indication how good they are but I go on their individual ability. one of my players is 4 months to young but he is massive and already is the tallest and biggest in my team, and most probably in our league, what will be the point him going down a year and dominating that age group. we should be treating our young people as individuals and putting them in a position where they will have chance to grow and progress to the maximum they can and not stunt their growth and put a one size fits all.
    COME ON SORT THIS OUT.
    surely does a couple of months matter if they have ability to play up a year?????????

  95. Darren upson on August 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    morons spring to mine,new FA rules and regs think our England team in 10 /15 years time are going to win something because of the changes they are making!wrong in my opinion the changes are negative and the majority of all footie clubs from under7s upwards revolve around money,this country lack the correct coaches coaching our kids and the correct o.a.ps running the system from the top

  96. david broadhurst on August 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Everyone talks about better coaches. I am a Level 2 coach and it cost a small fortune. Due to an injury I could not complete within the time frame laid down so had to pay another £65 on top of the £300 already paid to complete the course. Have you seen the cost of the next step? UEFA B is like £700. Typical FA talk it up because they just want the money

  97. todd on October 10, 2013 at 4:28 am

    coaching at the youth level is volunteer work so smaller teams = more teams = more coaches needed. and getting volunteer coaches is a HUGE problem. getting volunteer coaches who know hwat they are doing is even harder.

    the thing that strikes me most when I visit family in England is going to see my little nephews play in November in cold rain, their little toes totally numb. its hard to control the ball when you cant feel your toes and and are shivering. move the kids over to the summer….you know, when you can wear shorts outside. this 19th century habit of forcing kids to play a winter schedule because the pros do it is idiotic.

  98. James on July 24, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Can my 13 year old sign on for two teams that play on the same day but in different leagues one being a lower league

  99. Nigel Burns on September 20, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Can a 14/15 year old boy join an u17s Saturday team

  100. Peter on September 22, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Our U11s play in a Sunday League and last week played a team that had 3x U12s players playing. The result was 9-2 to the team that had these players. Is this correct players playing in a year below their age?
    We wasn`t notified by the League or the other coaches, we feel these players had a baring on the result and are Leagues allowed to have players playing for different age groups within a league??

  101. Sankar Ram Balasubra on April 3, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Does this system changes even in Premier league youth academies or only Sunday league football? As i’m confused, because in the document it says School football and Youth Football, School football is understandable but what does Youth Football means? Is it Sunday League teams or Premier league youth academies?

    Sankar Ram

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