As most of you may know, the United States Soccer Federation (US Soccer) released an announcement earlier this season concerning coach initiative mandates for the 2017-18 season in two main areas: (1) small-sided games and (2) changing the age groups from school year (8/1 - 7/31) to calendar year (1/1 – 12/31) releasing a new age group matrix. Fundamentally, these changes are being made in the interests of long term player development. US Soccer stated that, “With small-sided standards what we’re trying to do is to help players develop by putting them in an environment where they are constantly involved in the play and our changes in birth-year registration will make age groups easier to understand, while aligning our calendar with the international calendar.” All FIFA members (except the US and Canada) currently use Calendar Year for age groups. These US Soccer mandates will have an impact on almost every facet of youth competition in this country. CLICK HERE for more information about these US Soccer initiatives.
Soccer Hierarchy & Decisions Made About the Timing of the Mandates
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of football (soccer). US Soccer, a member of FIFA, is the governing body for the sport of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer (USYS) and US Club Soccer, to name the more familiar organizations, are members of US Soccer. Then down to our state & club level, Florida Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) is a US Youth Soccer state association and the Chargers Soccer Club is an affiliate of both FYSA & US Club Soccer. US Soccer’s mandates apply to all of these soccer organizations in the United States.
Subsequent to US Soccer’s announcement, USYS announced they were rolling out the age group mandates for the 2016-17 season for some of their programs (e.g. National Championship Series, President’s Cup, ODP, etc.) and released their own age group matrix. Unfortunately, these two age group matrices were not the same creating a great deal of confusion throughout the U.S. and a great deal of debate ensued. Just prior to the holidays, both organizations’ matrices were aligned and then the last questions for us was when were the changes going to take affect – 2016-17 season or the 2017-18 season. It appeared that FYSA was waiting until after the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) convention (1/13-17/16) and on 1/22/16 announced their confirmation that the small-sided game and birth year age group mandates will go into effect for the 2016-17 season throughout the United States.
How will this effect players & teams?
Long story short, we now know officially that the mandates will go into effect for this next season (2016-17). For more helpful info:
Change is hard for all of us creating a bit of uncertainty and uneasiness. We are very aware and are working to create scenarios that will prepare our players and teams for the changes that are ahead. The good news is that every club in the country will be going through the changes together and a year from now these changes won’t feel strange at all. It is just the transition period that may feel awkward.
As an example, it wasn’t really that many years ago that U11 & U12 age groups played 11v11 on a full sized field. What seemed like a huge change to the current small-sided format that occurred in 2005, most of us barely remember it any other way or didn’t even know about.
To help everyone through this transition, great care is being taken by your Soccer Directors and Coaches reviewing every roster and every player’s birth year to make sure that teams are developed carefully and compassionately going into tryouts so they can compete appropriately. We realize that coaches and players have a connection that is important, and we will work to create scenarios where players and teams will be successful and continue to enjoy their soccer experience.
Our goal is to place our teams and players in the best scenarios for player development and safety. We want to see the players able to compete against players of similar age. With the age group changes, players can still play “up,” but in some cases they will be playing “up” against players 12-19 months older since the birth year changes begin with January birthdays instead of August. With this disparity in ages that will be created, player development, safety, and competition level will be closely evaluated to determine the best fits for all Charger teams and players.
Now that it has been confirmed that the US Soccer mandates are going into effect for this coming season for all US based youth soccer, we have begun our homework of reviewing each team and player age groups throughout the club and then the Soccer Directors will be working with each team’s coaching staff for a more detailed review and then, through sit down discussions, you and the members of your child’s team, will receive a more direct level of communication no later than April 15th. For most, we do not anticipate much of a change and for those whose birth dates put them in one of those in between states, all available options going into tryouts will be discussed with you.
In closing, we really do know that change is hard creating a bit of uncertainty and uneasiness. Our goal is to work with all of you to providing good information to remove any angst you or your child may be feeling. We are all in this together!
Chargers Soccer Club