CW Poll: Mixed football increase splits opinion

The grassroots football community is split down the middle over the FA’s plans to increase the age limit for mixed football in England to under-15s, a Club Website poll can reveal.

Of the 2,846 people polled by Club Website, 51 percent said that they were in favour of the change, which will see boys and girls as old as 15 able to play football in the same team from the start of next season, an increase in one year from last season’s age limit.

49 percent of respondents were against the change, given the green light by FA shareholders in a unanimous vote last month in a bid to further increase the number of girls playing football in England.

Just three seasons ago, mixed football was only sanctioned up to the under-11s age group but, having increased the age-limit to under-13s for the 2011/12 season, the FA acted on positive feedback from that change and increased the age limit to under-14s for last season.

The FA says that the latest change will enable them to “conduct further research into mixed football at this older age group”, although the reaction within the grassroots football community has been mixed.

Joining in the debate on Club Website’s Facebook page, Kevin Bell said: “Think there needs to be a limit to age due to kids growing up, there’s some big boys & girls out there, and the hormone’s can really start kicking in from 13/14!!!!!!!!!!”

Commenting as we posted the news here on Club Website last month, John Young said: “What a disaster for girls football in England. I only hope the Welsh FA do not go down this route !….This will only reduce the incentive for clubs to operate girls only teams. The number of girls who will get game time at older age level in mixed teams will be few and far between.”

Many Club Website members welcomed the changes, however, including Chris Banks, who posted on Facebook: “Agree and why not go further. If girls are given the same opportunities from an early age and encouraged like boys are then there is no reason why their skill levels won’t be the same or even better.”

Lyndsey Taylor was also in favour, welcoming any of her fellow Facebook members worried about girls playing with boys to come and watch her team play.

“That’s a great idea,” she said. “As for all the comments about lads not tackling girls etc and girls being stronger, I invite you all to come and watch our team, we have one girl who definitely holds her own, and we’re glad to have her, she is an asset to our team, and glad we will have her for a little longer. The team wouldn’t be the same without her!”

Growing participation in women’s and girls’ football was one of the FA’s key priorities in their Game Changer strategy, published last October, and they hope that giving girls the option to play with boys until the age of 15 will keep more of them involved in the game.

“The FA expects and encourages the majority of girls to stay in girls’ football with talented players joining a FA Girls’ Player Development Centre or FA Centre of Excellence,” said Rachel Pavlou, The FA’s National Development Manager for Women’s Football, in a piece written for Club Website.

“However, Mixed football does give an opportunity for a small number of girls who want to play in a team with the boys to do so.”

Click here to read Rachel Pavlou’s piece, outlining the reasons behind the FA’s decision to increase the age limit for mixed football to under-15s.

Club Website poll: The FA has raised the age limit for mixed football in England to under-15s from the start of next season. Do you agree with the change?

* Yes – 50.9%
* No – 49.1%

Total votes cast: 2,846

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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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10 Comments

  1. Craig Addison on June 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    This has to be a good thing for good female players, as in the male game there will be a natural filtering of weaker players, who will realise football isn’t for them, leaving the better female players to continue to develop and grow at club level. The approach from officials will be interesting, just hope there decisions remain based on the rules of the game rather than who was involved in the challenge. I know I have seen at least a dozen girls playing this season at U12 and I would have them in my team in a heart beat. Why should football end for them? if they want to play let them play.

  2. dennis johnson on June 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    At the end of the day if girls are allowed to play, they will, as all players only get picked if they are good enough. So I don’t see how this can be a bad thing for anyone. Some girls are that good that they really need this.

  3. Richard Catling on June 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I am totally against the idea of girls playing mixed football with boys past the age of u11, as I run a girls team and struggle to attract players to play, surely if the better girls who play for boys teams come and join girls teams this would boost the number of girls playing girls football and would increase the overall standard of everyone playing. Unless this is carried right too adult teams I see no sense in doing this.

  4. Sheelin Hills on June 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    My daughter played her last mixed season in 2012 for the U15’s here in South Africa. While I fully advocate the mixed teams, she was the only girl playing in the entire U15 league last year. It was an awesome “secret weapon” as many of the boys were perturbed by the fact that there was a girl playing and their ingrained chivalry came into play, to their detriment as my daughter is a talented player and was treated as an equal by her teammates, passing and using her in the game. The downside to this is that most of the boys are growing in size as well as speed, and my daughter has pretty much finished her development with regards to height etc. Our local league has however conceded that the girls wanting to play in the boys league may now play in an age group younger eg. if she is 15 she may play in the U14’s age group, which she has decided not to do as she says she’ll just get frustrated.

  5. Duncan on July 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I think extending the age limit to U14 was the right thing, but do have a concern with U15 because, movement into the Womens game at U16 level is a big social change, moving into growing teams key, not established set ups. After all the success of Youth football is the enjoyment of those participating in it.

  6. John Young on July 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    To Craig Addison: Your comment disturbs me greatly, and I shall explain why; 1)You seem to have the view that the current rules stop girls from playing football i.e. ‘ why should football end for them?’. This is NOT correct, as there are girls only teams and girls only leagues which we need to encouarge girls to join 2) You state that the natural filtering of weaker players who will realise football is not for them’; Yes , I agree with you that this new rule will discourage girl footballers who do not make the grade in the boys game to give up football altogether….. We should be getting to play for girls leagues where there may not be good enough to get gametime in the boys teams, but it is almost certain they would be welcome to any girls football club. People need to stop having a blinkered view by looking at this from just the boys game perspective. Please can everone also look at it from the persepctive of girls only football as well.. this needs to be a growing and thriving section of all the FA’s. Not reducing them by basically merging players with the boys set up.

  7. Steve Francis on July 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Sorry to be negative here, but this is appears to be yet another ridiculous decision to try to engineer a solution based on a fundamental issue with the way the girls game is run in this country.

    I am very very much in favour of girls football, so this is not based on any outdated sexist attitude, but the two genders games at this age are very different from my own experience having watched both, one very quick, physical and strength based and the other very much less so and therefore the two are incompatible in my opinion.

    Sadly I can only see this as having a detrimental effect on the boys game at a time when it needs as much encouragement as possible.

    The rush to develop the womens game has meant that well run girls teams at grass roots level have been rendered virtually defunct in some towns leading to amalgamations of teams and small leagues and divisions with teams having to play the same opposition four times plus a season.

    All because good players have been recruited to regional centres of excellence in the hurry to compete internationally.

    Rather than enhance the womens game I fear that decisions like this may very well have the opposite effect to what was envisaged.

    The FA need to get a grip on a proper development plan for the womens game in this country rather than pussy foot around the periphery to the potential detriment of the male game.

  8. Brian Martin on July 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Don’t see what the problem is here. It’s not like girls are being forced to play with boys, just giving them option to play with boys if they want to or don’t have an all-girls team to play in. Good idea.

  9. Anthony Capon on July 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    As you will note from my email address as a referee I have spent many years refereeing youth football both male and female the last two seasons I have on behalf of my local County FA been training the new referees male & female I have also in the past been the referee secretary to The Essex County Girls League I have also coached girls I am FA qualifed Therefore I have a inside knowledge on this subject My own daughter has played since she was 10 years old now 21 She has played at International Level Holds FA coaching qualifications & has just completed her Sports degree at Leeds University Now to the subject in question There are advantages & disadvantages in my experience
    ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING MIXED UNTIL 15
    1/ Boys at 15 are mainly stronger girls at the same age girls become stronger if playing with boys of this age my daughter trained with West Ham in The Community from age 12 until she was15 & played small traning games (not then allowed to play full competitive games because of the gender issue When training she became one of the best players stronger then many of the boys although she was very small I also found examples of this when I referee girls that have played friendly games with their brothers or young male friends
    2/ Girls learn to pass the ball better when receiving passes from boys speed of power from pass.
    3/ Shots at goals for female goal keepers more power from boys
    4/ Fitness need to keep up the the male natural fitness note other sports
    5/ There are may more advantages to many to mention
    DISADVANTAGES
    1/Natural shyness of the female gender
    2/ Many males still have still have the age old problem of thinking football is only for them
    and will not pass the ball to a female
    3/ Females at age 15 are starting to find boys overtaking them in size
    4/ There are many other disadvantages

    MY CONSIDERATION
    Girls be allowed to play mixed until 15 for a trial period I feel my daughter and many female players I have refereed would have become even better players had they been allowed to play mixed football until 15 We need the improvement I feel this would make in our female international teams

  10. Kevin on October 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    My daughter plays for the best girls team in the next county and is one of their best players. They scored 185 conceded 6 in 10 hours of match time last season. Her average local boys team in which she is one of the weaker players in would thrash them. I am in favour of mixed teams based on ability alone-no sentimentality. If a girl is any good play boys football for as long as she can and play girls football for a team a year older (2 years if you can get away with it) Go for trials at a girls Centre of Excellence to get the best team mates and opposition you can find.

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