Mixed response to age limit increase in mixed football

Grassroots opinion divided over FA plans to raise age limit for mixed football to under-16s

Opinion remains divided in the grassroots football community over plans to increase the age limit for mixed football in England.

From the start of next season girls and boys as old as 16 will be able to play football for the same team, a change supported by the majority of Club Website members.

53 percent of those polled said they were in favour of the increase, which the Football Association hopes will give more opportunities to more girls to play the game.

Among those in favour was Naomi Davies who, discussing the issue on our Facebook page, said: “I think this is great for girls football as the boys naturally push the girls who chose to play in a mixed team harder, so any extra length of time spent with them can only be a good thing.”

The age limit increase is the fourth implemented by the FA in as many seasons. Just three summers ago, children at under-11s were the oldest allowed to play with both boys and girls in the team, but the FA has since had a strong chance of policy.

Having extended the age limit to under-13s for the 2011/12 season, the FA reported largely positive feedback for the change, which has been followed by a one-year increase for each of the following three seasons.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Director of the National Game, described the changes as “really great news” and said that “the most important thing is to give girls who want to play football the choice.”

By offering this choice to more girls, the FA hopes to increase participation in girls’ and women’s football, one of the key priorities of their 2012 Game Changer strategy, which outlines the ambition of making women’s football England’s second largest team sport, behind men’s football, by 2018.

But not everyone agrees with the changes, with many opponents citing the physical differences between boys and girls as they develop through their teenage years.

“It’s wrong, boys after 14 scientifically get stronger and girls won’t get a spot in a boys team! It will decrease participation and will be taking womens football back a step!” said Tash Holt on Facebook.

Tony Gardner, a youth football referee, added: “I think this one is a bridge too far. I am fully in favour of mixed football in the lower age groups, it works well as the girls can be as good as the boys.

“However, once you get beyond the age of puberty, then the wisdom of allowing them to participate in a sport which can involve close physical contact is very questionable! Are we as referees going to have to apply a different standard for a male challenging a female as opposed to a female challenging a male?”

As recently as 2009, as many as 60 percent of Club Website members said they were against the idea of mixed football played by children over the age of 12. With a majority now in favour of it being played at under-16s, it shows how quickly opinion changes as the game moves on.

The FA and supporters of mixed football will hope that a similar shift in opinion will continue as the new age limit comes into effect this season.

Club Website poll: The age limit for mixed football in England has been raised to under-16s for the 2014/15 season. Are you in favour of the change?

Yes 53%
No 47%

Total votes: 1,840 votes

Image courtesy of TheFA.com

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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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  1. Sue Best on July 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

    At grass root level what do we do about changing rooms.
    We do not have enough now .
    I am all for it,. We have about. 50 girls at our club with 3 teams entered in the SCWGFL .
    Thank you.

  2. Ian Yeomans on July 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    As a u14,s boys team coach and having a daughter that plays for a u14,s girls team i have
    mixed views but as a club we go to Germany to play in a tournament every 2 years and the have been playing mixed football for a long time and they do not have any problems with their national teams of men & women.

  3. Steve Morris on August 2, 2014 at 9:52 am

    A step in the right direction, my daughter stopped playing mixed football at U11. Luckily her development continued at a centre of excellence, otherwise she would not have had the opportunity to test herself. She consistantly performed on a level with the boys but did not get the opportunity at school due to the restriction.

  4. vicky on August 2, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Why is everyone looking at the way of if a girl playing in a boys team then its OK but what if you have a 15 year old boy playing in a girls team then that different and everyone will kick up a fuss over it.
    So no I don’t agree with the age being higher

  5. Claire Sullivan on August 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

    My daughter is going to u14s ahe plays for me in a girls team but to challenge her she attending training for a couple of boys clubs and they are all willing to take her for Sunday league. As for changing rooms nowhere seems to have them now and every team I’m part of all turn up for matches in there kits. I’m all for the age increase.

  6. Gareth Whiston on August 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with the objective of trying to increase female football however I cant help feel that this is a half hearted attempt by the FA, greater focus needs to given to growing female football in its own right not off the back of the well structured male game. Mixed up to 16 creates to many questions for me, physical, logistical (changing rooms) etc.

  7. Tony Gardner on August 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    This appears to be about girls playing in boys’ teams. What has not been thought through is the issue of boys playing in girls’ teams. By the time you get to 14/15/16 there is a marked difference in the athleticism between genders. Is there anything to stop a team of 10 boys (with a token girl) running riot in a girls’ league?

  8. Tom Knight on August 10, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I am totally against the plan for girls to be able to play with the boys up to the age of 16 as female football will not develop as much as it has over the past few years.

    Yes I do agree with girls being able to play with the boys until they are 12, like we have in wales, and I can tell when a girl has played with the boys at a young age as they most of the time are more willing to play with a physical nature.

    However this can have a negative affect on getting girl to play football. Over the past year I have seen more girls at a younger age leving boys football for girls as the feel isolated as the boys don’t pass to them. These players have then gone on the play at a higher standard as they gain more confidence by getting more tuches of the football and there are a greater number of female role modles for them as they find out about ladies football teams.

    Tom Knight
    West wales women and girls league
    Executive committee member & west wales performance center bourd member.

  9. Amanda Hesketh on August 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I don’t agree with this I have been involved in girls football for 10 years and at club level for the past four years, to do this will never develop the game, where do the girls go at 16 when the boys join the youth teams? You’re not providing a solution……..

  10. Adam on August 17, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    This is ridiculous this is why girls football are not going anywhere they are struggling to recruit players and this will make the issue worse. There should be No mixed teams

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