Mixed football age limit raised to under-16s

Girls and boys as old as 16 will be allowed to play football in the same teams from the start of next season, following a rule change by the Football Association.

The FA has raised the age limit for mixed football from under-15s to under-16s – the fourth increase in as many seasons – in a bid to give more girls more choice over what teams they can play for.

As recently as the 2010/11 season, FA rules allowed only girls of primary school age (under-11s) to play football with boys. The FA raised the age group from under-13s for the following season, before incremental one-year increases for each of the following seasons.

The FA say that the change – unanimously voted in by FA shareholders at their Annual General Meeting last month – will come into effect for the 2014-15 season and will enable then to conduct further research into mixed football at this older age group.

Kelly Simmons, FA Director of National Game and Women’s Football, said: “This is really great news and we are delighted that the FA shareholders fully supported the rule change to enable boys and girls to play in the same teams if they wish to do so up to the under-16 age limit.

“The most important thing is to give girls who want to play football the choice.”

Mixed football for under-16s – have your say!

Are you in favour of the FA’s decision to raise the age limit for mixed football to under-16s?

Tell us what you think about the decision in the comments field below and cast your vote in our online poll on the subject. You can vote now on your club or league website, or via our demo site.

Image courtesy of TheFA.com

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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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43 Comments

  1. Lee Hayward on June 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Great news my rear end, and I’m VERY surprised to see she’s claiming unanimous support. All it does is send out the message that women’s football is a second-best option, and it’s got the potential to cause a major stagnation in the girls’ game, especially in less populated areas of the UK.

  2. louise masterson on June 26, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Great news for my family of 2 girls and 1 boy who all play football for the same team and the fact that there are not that many local girls teams unless willing to travel absolutely miles!

  3. Ray Dixon on June 27, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Why don’t The FA concentrate on getting Male Football up to World standards first? Then when we have that right, look at improving the Female standard. All this will do is keep levels at the lowest denominator and we have just seen in Brazil how well we did. Don’t waste time and money. Ray

  4. mick fletcher on June 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    sorry but Roys point is THE point. As a coach and teacher with 16 years of coaching experience at primary age level this is seriously NOT good news. It presupposes a huge demand for girls football. There is not a demand except in the minds of feminist imaginations. I have coached girls who are superb players but for every girl there are 10 boys. The FA parrots the Political Correctness of successive governments and is ruining our game. I told everyone in power who I could that Futsol is the way forward in primary schools. It allows for all kids from all school years to play competitively because of the ease with which it can be organised. Schools can play it on the playground without having to book out fields which involve complicated transport arrangements and parents having to help with transport and get CRB checks. We are being bureaucratised to death. Most girls do NOT WANT TO PLAY WITH BOYS!!!!And most boys do do NOT WANT TO PLAY WITH GIRLS!! Sorry to burst your bubble Kelly but actually I think you know that anyway.

  5. Eugene Warrener on June 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I manage a mixed team who would have had to split up so I welcome this. And for success judge this. We won the cup this and last season so I disagree that levels will drop you dinosaur

  6. mick fletcher on June 30, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Eugene

    predictably you resort to name calling when I touch the sacred cows of PC. Girls and boys CAN play together but prefer to play separate. In 14 years of teaching experience I never heard a demand from boys or girls for mixed football. Such baloney has to be taught to kids through the PC national curriculum which you seem to be so attached to. Mixed football is highly political and the kids are the victims. But just so you know. I have coached boys teams and girls teams to high levels. Boys play football with the mentality of soldiers. Girls are not as obsessed and don’t tend to go home and dream about being Messi or Robben but do enjoy a social with their team mates. Sorry to tell you but there are biological issues!! but I am a dinosaur right?

    • Angela on March 15, 2017 at 10:18 am

      You are assuming girls don’t have the drive and aspirations and successful role models i.e. Houghton as boys do.

  7. Tony Gardner on July 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Whether it will have any effect in practice is a moot point. At younger ages there is little to choose between the strength of boys and girls, but by the time you reach 16 then (with few exceptions) boys are stronger and faster. Girls may find it difficult to get a place in a competitive team regardless of the ruling. And is it going to end up sexist in that girls will be allowed to play in a “Boys'” league, but boys will not be allowed to play in a “Girls'” league? Otherwise, you could in theory enter a complete team of boys , or a team with a token girl, in a “Girls'” league? And is it wise to allow players who will commonly be past puberty to compete together in a sport which can involve close physical contact….

    • luke on April 26, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Boys and Girls can be the same strength from luke

  8. David Broadhurst on July 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Although it is desirable to many in practical terms this is not good for football. All clubs are struggling to keep abreast of the recent changes brought about by the FA at a time when local councils do not have the money to support clubs. Segregation for changing is impossible as councils cut back and clubs struggle for money. Girls at this age should play in a girls league and boys in a boys league FULL STOP. You dont see girls playing mixed cricket or boys mixed netball so why does football have to be mixed gender

  9. Phil on July 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Another stunningly brilliant plan by the buffoons of the FA. The female game is hard enough to recruit players and keep them, Girls Teams could lose players as they go off to play with boys teams.
    Where do these muppets think we will get these huge changing facilities to account for male and female changing, showering area.
    This almost smacks of sexism, because all it will improve is boys clubs.
    If the FA kept their noses out of grassroots football life would be so much simpler and make more sense.

  10. heulwen james on July 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    I agree with this decision. coming from a small town in wales we don’t have enough boys and girls to play in teams so them being able to play together benefits the girls as they get stronger as they need to keep up with the boys as they also get stronger. if these girls don’t get to play with the boys then they won’t be able to play which would lead to no girls’ games.

  11. Melanie Davies on July 11, 2014 at 3:57 am

    I am of the option that the girls who play with boys for as long as they can are the better players. But some girls don’t want to ay with the boys. But will play in girls team. Taking out the girls who will now play with the boys till 16 will there be enough girls left to continue to have girls leagues as they are now.
    There is a lot of travelling now in the girls league they might be now even more travelling. have the parents got that much time nowadays.

  12. Paul on July 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

    We have excellent female and male international teams at all ages. So if the FA are so committed to this then why don’t they put up or shut up. The day I see them mixing it up in the England teams is the day I believe they made the right decision….don’t think it will happen do you!!

  13. Peter Owen on July 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

    My Daughter wants to play football, desperately wants to play football. She is, in my opinion a reasonably talented footballer compared to Girls around her age. In comparison to boys she would probably get into a team of boys and I would guess her ability is average in comparison. So here the dilemma starts. Do I want her to fight her way into a boys team? This could develop her in many different ways. She would need to improve every aspect of her game to keep up potentially making her a stronger, better more confident all round footballer. The flip side is, would she get enough touches of the ball, chances in the team to improve? If she did play would she be the subject of derision and abuse. Okay so I decide to take her to a girls team, coached by a parent (female). ( Just to side track, 2 of the best football coaches I have seen in junior football recently were female) This particular female did not know football, training consisted of very basic cone dribbling routines where the participants were the team and all of their siblings regardless of gender or age. the youngest I believe was 18 months old and the eldest about 12 or 13. This was not for us. The second girls team looked promising, again a female coach who had played football to a reasonable level. our first week 8 were there, second week coach didn’t show, third 4 turned up, fourth no one showed up apparently training had changed to a different day. we have just done 4 weeks at a new team where the female coach is brilliant, 12 very promising footballers turned up in week 1 followed by 6 then 4 then 3. Also matches for any teams that make it that far are sporadic at best and you need to be prepared to travel.

    • luke on April 26, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      Peter Owen let ur dwter fight her way into boys mixed football team or male team from luke n Aylesbury 07731553604

  14. Geoff on July 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Eugene. Your comment about judging success by the fact you win a cup shows you have little understanding of youth football and what ‘success’ actual means in terms of the development of young players.

    Secondly, I have no problem with girls and boys playing in the same team. However, I do think that the larger picture has not been looked at properly and totally agree with many of the comments regarding how this will effect the longer term growth of womens/girls football. Both genders football futures should be treated as equally as important. It’s typical FA propaganda, where are the results of the studies that show the benefits and risks, where are the future plans to demonstrate the sustainability of such changes. There are valid points argued by both view points here, but has proper research been conducted by the FA?

    The whole of the FA needs freshening up.

  15. phil on July 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Its a good idea but our league stoll says its 12 I have got a boys team and would welcome any girls that want to play wot they need to do is confirme wot has happened to me in a tournament were there were u9 girls playing for a u7s team which they have said is aloud does anybody know any different

  16. Simon kirman on September 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    What madness…once again who are the powers that be trying to legislate for ?
    My daughter and her friends have played competitive Girls football in a league for the last 4 years.Last year a new team played a boy. The league is called The Central Warwickshire Girls Football League. The clue is in the title I would suggest ? Why would a boy play in a team of girls if not just to boost their performance…this raises the issues about win at all costs. Do I then register a boy ? Or do I play a team of girls that will struggle physically against a lad ?…it’s competitive enough with some girls playing a year above their age group.
    This year teams are registering more than one boy….next year team of boys with a scattering of girls?…why play boys in your team at the expense of girls sat on the bench?…it’s supposed to be about developing girls football.
    If girls are good enough , then if it is a mixed league then you know what your getting, But DONT allow all girls teams to register boys…u.16 they are young men! And I haven’t even touched on safety and potential criminal allegations..GRABBING IN THE BOX?.. Sure the FA will support any claims…
    The FA is about making money… you had a trial last year ?…what? And you increase the age to u.16 for another trial…the next year…u.17 the year after ?…u.18…where r you going to stop ?…women in The R&A golf…why not in the premiership?…or 6 nations rugby, madness.!

  17. Nadine on October 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    If the teams are mixed they should register with a league for mixed teams. I am annoyed because my daughter s choice to play with and against girls has been taken away.

  18. John Harrison on October 24, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    My daughter plays in a GIRLS team and plays against other GIRLS teams imagine our surprise, without any warning last season we are confronted with a GIRLS team that has a BOY playing for them, the referee was not sure of the rules but the opposition manager had come prepared with a quote (copy of the rules) ,anyway the match went ahead much to our surprise.
    This season imagine your average u14/15 GIRLS turn up to be confronted by yet another team who have a BOY in there team who is about 6 foot tall and not slightly built ,his strength and speed were far in excess of our GIRLS who are no slouches or shrinking violets yet were intimidated by the sheer size of this player .
    My feeling is have a boys league for boys ,a GIRLS league for GIRLS and a mixed league for boys and girls .

  19. Laura on October 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    When I was 10 years old I was kicked out of my football team for being a girl. Obviously I didn’t understand at that age why this was happening, I was evidently better than some of the players they had because team manager was as equally upset as me. So back in 2000 U10s was the oldest players could be to allow mixed teams. It does make me happy to know that girls aged 10 will not be kicked out of their team in their final year of primary school, just for being a girl, and at that age, with a low probability of being of significantly smaller build than their boy team mates.

    U16 however does seem like the borderline of acceptability of this ruling as many boys would be bigger and stronger than the girls at this age. A cut-off shouldn’t be agreed due to whether girls will ‘get in the team’ for not being ‘good enough’ or ‘strong enough’ to compete with the boys. It should be based on safety, and if girls aren’t ‘good enough’ to play in the mixed teams at age 15 then there are women’s teams who will be able to take girls of 15.

    I was playing in a women’s team by the time I was 14 and coming from Dorset, where there are significantly fewer women’s teams than many counties, it was fine at that age to be allowed to play with women of all ages.

    I believe that if teams are registered as mixed teams they should play other mixed teams, if men’s teams, play other men’s teams, and if women’s teams, play other women’s teams. It should be fairly straightforward to register a team within the right league, and depending on the age and sex of the players they have available a decision should be made accordingly.

  20. andy k on November 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I’ve seen the other side of some of these arguments – a girl playing @ u14 age group. She was obviously good enough to play but I could see some of my boys who were far stronger and bigger than her pulling out and stopping short of tackling her as they felt it was wrong. they’re not usually shy of being physical in a match but it threw them. In the days when there were not a lot of ladies teams around I could understand it, but there are good ladies / girls leagues in my area (as there should be). At the U14 age group bodies are changing and personally I think we shouldn’t have mixed-sex teams.

  21. proud dad on November 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    My daughter plays for an under 14 team who sit currently at the top of the first division. She starts every game and is rarely subbed even in a squad of 16 she is lighting fast and fearless and a core player in the team. If she wants to play why not if she is not good enough she won’t be on the pitch its that simple.
    As for changing rooms I’ve never seen any team get changed after a match there is no facilitiey for boys or girls and that’s the case across most of north west.
    She’s been kicked a lot boys show her no favours that happens when they can’t get the better of a girl all game.
    She would gain no benefit playing for a girl’s team at the moment unless an academy team which we will look at when the time comes until then I guess she will continue to answer all the dinosaurs on the pitch where it counts.

  22. Gideon Brimmer on December 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Despite the appeal for talented girls to play for their local boys team the idea of mixed teams is not a good one. My daughter already plays a year above her age as there a not enough U13’s in her local football club. At times she already plays U14 girls who are bigger and stronger than her, but imagine her surprise when she met three U14 boys at her last 9-a-side league game. The three boys dominated the game and although their six girl teammates played very well the boys were clearly the backbone of the opposing team. They were faster, stronger and generally more physical and could kick the ball harder and further. Also the opposing team had a girl as substitute who did not get a full game as her position was taken by a boy. The whole idea of a girls football league is to enable girls to play a game they enjoy without the presence of boys who are generally more physical and aggressive in the way they play. The FA have got this decision very wrong and need to reconsider or at least revise the rules to only let boys play in limited circumstances where a full team of girls is not possible and at the full consent of all teams in the league. This has nothing to do with sexism or equality but is simply common sense.

  23. Liz usher on February 3, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    My daughter, 14, plays for both a girls and a boys team. She much prefers the boys game and would like to trial for a boys centre of excellence.. I’m assuming this is a step too far for the F A who would prefer her to stick to the inferior/sparse girls set set up at this level? If they are allowed to play for a boys team up to 16 they should be allowed into the upper tier of progression too to prove its not lip service

  24. Faraz Khan on March 21, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Hey I am a boy I play good football but wants to play professionaly in some clubs. I am 14 year old please reply.

  25. mel on April 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    we have 2 girls playing in the team
    at under 14 both play in defence and hold there own so we are happy age limit has gone up just hope they stay with us next season

  26. Zoe on April 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Hi I’m Zoe and I’m 11 almost 12 and I like foootball but but not the one at my school so I would like a girl AND boys one not far from me and all ages please reply and thank you

  27. wendy on August 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    in Scotland my daughter plays for a girls only team but they play in a boys league.
    what are the rules regarding maximum age girls can be to play against 2003 year age group can they be 2 years older?

  28. Lauren Matthews on August 15, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    im 14 and I am absolutely delighted I can continue playing soccer!

  29. Ellie on August 30, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I’m 11 coming up to 12 and I’m a girl footballer and when I’m older I still want to be able to play with the boys so I’m glad it has know raised the age limit

  30. Paul on September 2, 2015 at 3:04 am

    I am currently going into year 11 turning/(already)16 on the 31st of august and the deadline age for under 17 is the 1st September but am in the year below so I can’t play in the same year group as I’m in at school because I’m 1 day too old to play with them :O :- 🙁 therefore I would have to join under 17s rather than under 16s 🙁 I would love if the FA were to raise the age limit for those like me.

  31. True ann duglast on October 12, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    My sister is a good football players I will to get and team

  32. True ann duglast on October 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    She is so good she get a scholarship but we didn’t have any money a the time I to help her

  33. rob fraser on October 29, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Absolutely brilliant news…. too many female players are lost due to the lack of all girl teams at junior level. This will surely encourage more to stay with there sides until they are old enough to play all girl at youth level.

  34. Chelsea on November 16, 2015 at 1:03 am

    I would love to play football with boys,ive been playing the sport since i was 3 and now im 19 and i thouroughly enjoy it! The FA should raise the age alot but only for sunday league teams,if girls want to play with boys and give themselves competition or even to show some boys up then why not?, they obviously know what they are getting themselves in to if they do get hurt…it would be amazing to be able to unite with the men/boys and play a sport together. Its a shame that this may not happen but all we can do is hope! 😀

  35. Claire on January 16, 2016 at 8:36 am

    My daughter is 8 turns 9 in may she trains with under 11s and has the ability to play with this team u wpuldent no any different in her age of u didn’t no she is one of there best players even though she the youngest the down fall she 2 young play match’s for her team how do I get around this she so upset she loves her team she to good for a younger team and doesn’t want lose her team mates who after 2 years training with them she bonded with

  36. Tara McPhee on May 17, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Why should we concentrate on getting the boys football up to world standards and then concentrate on girls football? I mean seriously girls are just as good as boys and it should be our choice if we want to play football or not! It shouldn’t be up to the fact that we are girls or that we are to old!

  37. Torryn on June 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Girls should not play contact Sports with boys boys are heavier then girls the reason why we’re heavier it’s because we have a lot more muscle. So if we are on top of each other is more of a chance of a girl getting hurt in football it happens a lot. Boys playing against girls some boys are not comfortable playing with a girl

  38. leeanne on July 2, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    In our local junior FC,, they only play mixed football and girls football, not boys on their own. The FA has gone PC mad! After seeing all these comments though, i’m putting my son into the girls team and see what response I get! Gender equality says I can…and he just wants to play football ⚽

  39. Sophie on September 20, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I am a girl I have played football with the boys for 9 years I think the FA should raise the age boundarie as I have made friends at this team, I’ve grown up around these people and to be honest my physicality is better than most of the boys this is my last year and it’s a shame I have to go.

  40. Jo McGouran on October 1, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    both my daughters play football for a girls team. 1 is in U12 and 1 is in U14, cos they”re 2 school years apart. The younger is the most talented player who represents her town in centre of excellence programme but has been told she can’t play 2 years up with her sister. you’ve upped the age for girls to play with boys (who are physically bigger)…..but my almost 12 yr old is pretty much same size as the girls in her 13 yr old sister”s team. Why can’t she play for a team 2-years up? She can at netball!!!

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