The Football Association has extended the age at which mixed football can be played in England to include the under 14s age group.
The rule change means that from the start of next season (2012/13), girls and boys will be able to play in the same teams, should they wish to do so.
FA shareholders approved the extension at last week’s AGM to allow further research into playing mixed football in this older age group.
The age limit had been raised from under 11s to under 13s just 12 months ago – a move widely considered to be a success.
“We’ve had some really positive feedback about it going to under 13s,” Rachel Pavlou, the FA’s National Women’s Football Development Manager, told Club Website.
“We were then asked by players and managers if we’d consider going up to under 14s next year.”
The rule change should support the development of female players, whilst providing greater flexibility for any girl who wants to play football.
“It’s about helping development, but it’s also about girls just want to play with their friends and their friends happen to be boys. If they want to play, that’s something we want to help to support,” said Pavlou.
“Also, we want to be able to support those girls that live in rural areas and maybe cannot get to a girls’ club as easily, so we’ve got to be able to provide them with an opportunity.
“I believe in all of this, all it’s about is choice. So if a girl wants to go through the girls’ pathway they can. If they want to play with the guys, that’s fine too. That’s what this is all about for us.”